The entire business fabric has been affected by the pandemic, placing SMEs in peril. We know that SMEs are among the main economic drivers and their role will be key to overcoming the difficult situation created by covid-19. Our aim at Santander is to help people and businesses prosper and provide them with liquidity so as to allow them to cope with the government-ordered economic slowdown. Some of the stories of how SMEs are responding to the crisis are given below.
Small manufacturers, restaurants and hotels are all facing an unprecedented situation, and at Santander our decisions and actions seek to help them recover as soon as possible. In fact, we are pleased to see our efforts recognised by Euromoney, which named us the best bank for SMEs in Western Europe and Latin America.
In every country where we operate, we are keeping an eye on the situation of small businesses. Our Group executive chairman, Ana Botín, to see first-hand what the future looks like for the hotel sector in Spain, met with Pepa Muñoz, chef at El Qüenco de Pepa and president of FACYRE, the federation of chefs and pastry chefs in Spain.
In Spain, after several months of lockdown, a “recovery” phase has begun, and we are putting all of our effort and strength and our sound structure into making this possible. We have already granted over €45 billion to companies, SMEs and self-employed persons since the beginning of the state of emergency in addition to helping 200,000 families by deferring repayments and providing advances, and we still have more than €60 billion in pre-approved loans available for our customers.
Providing liquidity to and conveying our trust in our customers is key to tackling the new situation. Companies such as Valfu, Grupo Deluz, Inmobiliaria TBH, Toldos Merino, Bodegas López Morena, Informática Carpio, Soltra, Helity Copter Airlines, Gevora Fruits, Valenzuela Atelier and Bionix Technologies are examples of companies that bear witness to this.
Each company has a personal story behind it. When businesses reopen their doors they provide many families the jobs that give them the confidence they need to recover from the economic downturn.
Small businesses' importance for Santander is not a short-term importance linked to the health crisis. In fact, our SME of the Year Award is one of the most sought-after awards in the business world. A total of 1,552 companies competed for the award in 2019.
The fourth edition of the SME of the Year Award, that of 2020, has added a Special Mention for the Best Initiative in the Fight Against covid-19, to recognise Spanish SMEs' commitment during the pandemic and their ability to meet the needs that have arisen in these months of health and social emergency.
During the pandemic, Santander Argentina is helping with loans to more than 17,000 SMEs and other companies, including hospitals, sanatoriums and clinics. Tecme, Argentina's largest manufacturer of ventilators, is one of the stories that fill us with pride. The most important thing for us is to be able to support this company with loans to increase its output and help those who help. Together we make a difference.
As noted by Sergio Lew, CEO of Santander Argentina, our contribution helped Tecme redirect and ramp up its output, previously 100% focused on the domestic market and on serving hospitals and health centres throughout Argentina.
To date, we have granted ARS 1 billion (€14 million) in loans for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to be able to work remotely. In addition, Santander Argentina has granted ARS 10 billion (€140 million) in loans for SMEs and hospitals to cover 175,000 salaries.
The economic situation, including that of SMEs and large companies, required more than the usual solutions.
Santander Bank Polska is helping keep many companies afloat and therefore protecting jobs. Some 160,000 customers have benefited from our loans, receiving a total of over €1.8 billion. In addition, we are carrying out various measures to mitigate the economic effects of covid-19 by providing three-to-six-month moratoria on loans and an extension on loan guarantees. Some 70,000 customers have benefited from the temporary waiving of fees for deposits by customers who have suspended their business activity. As a responsible bank, we are pleased to be close to our customers and, together with them, to look for solutions to each situation. This is also why we have organised a series of virtual seminars on YouTube for our customers, where tax and legal experts explain the most important government anti-crisis measures put forth.
Brazil has been hit hard by the pandemic, and since the outset we have done our utmost to help society. Specifically, with regard to customers, one of our main social and economic concerns was to give a boost to companies, especially SMEs.
We have therefore adopted three main measures: we have joined the federal government and other banks in a fund set up to distribute €6.5 billion in SME loans; we have introduced loans for individual micro-entrepreneurs with a three-month grace period on working capital loans; and we have given all companies in our customer portfolio 90 days to pay the first instalment on working capital loans.
At the end of the first quarter, disbursements to companies had already increased by €11 billion in the year-on-year comparison.
Given below are testimonies from customers in Brazil:
Factory to make and sell uniforms and tailor-made items for other companies or businesses, located in the city of Guará, São Paulo. This family-run company has been in business in the garment industry for more than 10 years and has 12 employees. At the outset of the pandemic the company saw a decline in revenues as its two largest customers downsized. It used its own resources to pay employee holidays and purchased machinery to produce bedding and bath and desk items to sell through its digital shop and its factory outlet, with strong prospects for growth in the market.
This company sells cleaning and maintenance contracts for condominiums, offices and gyms.
The customer used the two months of the Covid "Fopa" ("folha de pagamento", or payroll) product to meet its payroll. It took the opportunity offered by the fleet arrangement to reduce car rental costs for its employees. It therefore acquired capital and brought down its monthly expenses.
“When the pandemic began, as soon as the government launched aid for companies through Provisional Measure (MP) 927, Santander welcomed me and made an effort to quickly include our payroll. I would say they did so in record time, since hundreds of employees had to be encouraged to open accounts. The Santander team's working group ensured that my company suffered less than expected, and it made sure that I did not run out of capital.
In addition to covering my payroll, I had great opportunities to acquire a number of fleets, thus avoiding the cost of renting cars for my operations, which means that the company has its own assets. I would like to express my thanks and my eternal gratitude."
Stories of our Prospera programme customers:
Owner of a pastry shop. After taking out an €800 loan, he increased sales, bought a dobby and enlarged his point of sale, moving from a side street in the town of Fortaleza to one the main streets in the neighbourhood. During the pandemic, the company has increased its sales due to its delivery service and has had to buy two more models due to demand for deliveries.
The customer delivers pasta, bread and appetizers. He works from home and, through a €500 Prospera loan, has paid off industrial ovens and acquired other equipment.
After launching our government-supported Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), we received 19,977 applications, and offered 15,414 loans, with a value of €431 million, on the same day. We are committed to helping companies navigate their way through these difficult times.
Below we include some of the stories of our customers who have adapted their business model so as to continue operating under these new circumstances.
Kenny Tutt changed his haute cuisine restaurant to a take-away restaurant.
Veezu, a taxi company, has changed its business to deliver supermarket purchases to people at risk.
Crafters Companion, a shop selling handicraft, papercraft and needlecraft items, is another SME that we have supported, with a €3.88 million loan to increase sales through international expansion.
At this time, having remote sales can make or break stores and entrepreneurs. We have launched e-SPUG in collaboration with GetnetMx, to give merchants the option of making remote sales without having to use the point-of-sale (POS) terminal, and thus avoid interrupting deliveries and the charging of orders.
In Mexico, SMEs are eligible for a moratorium of up to four months on loan payments, which has benefited more than 21,000 SMEs, whose loans account for 65% of that segment's total portfolio. In addition, at Santander Mexico we have undertaken to channel federal government loans to small companies by utilising the experience of the Tuiio inclusion programme.
This is one example of how Tuiio is changing the lives of those without access to traditional banking.
Santander Uruguay has positioned itself as “the bank that banks for SMEs” in a campaign telling the story of progress, of entrepreneurs from various sectors, and illustrating their growth process. The value proposition, put forth in 2019, consisted of easily accessible credit facilities and the attention of specialised executives throughout the country.
Moreover, thanks to our proactivity and commitment, we reached over USD 50 million in secured loans to help SMEs through SiGa Emergencia, since its launch in April.
We have also promoted the #YourBankIsHere campaign, supported the SEMBRANDO programme to create soft loans with a focus on the entrepreneur sector, and proposed various initiatives that involve developing transaction solutions and training.
At Santander Chile, we are supporting SMEs through various measures, such as making available €5.4 billion in pre-approved consumer, mortgage, SME and company loans. Since April, our customers have been able to renew their existing loans (with a three-month grace period) and defer up to three mortgage payments.