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Access to Finance for SMEs

Holscher, Jens (2019) Access to Finance for SMEs.
The data is a description of the main findings from a seminar series funded by the ESRC. Lending to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), including micro businesses, remains at the top of the agenda for governments around the world. With various political and economic incentives introduced to support SMEs, it is important not to overlook the practicalities of institutional arrangements for access to finance, especially in the environment of prudent lending. This proposed seminar series brings together practitioners and academics in order to discuss the most pertinent issues of SME finance and of credit risk, with a view to setting a research agenda relevant to lenders and regulators. The government reports that the current support scheme appears to be working well, but banks have been criticised for their reluctant handling of the scheme. Critics emphasise that the uptake is far below the last year's Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme, but the British Banker's Association confirmed that total lending to SMEs rose. The government scrutinises the scheme and it was noted that banks were increasing charges and fees and require more personal security. New initiatives include the launch of the British Business Bank, local banks and credit unions. The German partners will contribute a comparative element for the institutional environment drawing upon. The German Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau (KfW) is considered to be a successful role model. Participants will engage in debate and invite keynote speakers from academia, government agencies and industry. Social science research will be promoted by drawing on leading researchers and through interaction of speakers and attendees, which will include breakout sessions related to sub-schemes such as micro finance, the role of regional funds, gender and development agencies. There has been a string of reports on SME lending, funding and equity gaps. Now is the time to take stock, draw it all together and make a preliminary assessment of the various initiatives in light of those reports.
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