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Center-invest Bank is Ready to Help Southern Russia’s Businesses

During a video conference organised by the Rostov region’s branch of OPORA Russia, Center-invest Bank spoke about measures to support SMEs and sole traders during the COVID 19 pandemic. The bank also proposed the creation of a loan programme to support economic transformation. OPORA Russia is a non-governmental organisation representing Russia’s SME sector.

The virtual conference was attended by 250 participants representing the business community, business associations, banks and the Rostov region’s Ministry for Economic Development. The participants discussed the pressing issues that now face all businesses as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic and the emerging global economic crisis.

Maria Khristolubova, deputy head of Center-invest Bank’s SME Division, spoke about the measures that the bank has already taken to support its customers. The bank has switched to remote working with businesses, while retaining maximum functionality and prompt application processing and decision-making.

Ms Khristolubova noted that in order to support business across the board, the list of sectors that are suffering must be expanded, and all banks in Russia should have access to preferential government programmes so they can finance their customers in the regions.

Ms Khristolubova also proposed a course of action to the management of OPORA Russia. She said, "We have analysed all the existing programmes and measures to support small business, and we suggest that OPORA Russia proposes at the federal level the development of a loan programme to support SMEs. This programme would offer loans with a term of three years, a maximum interest rate of 5%, and a possible six-month grace period. This would allow small business to pick up the required speed and in a very real sense "to get off its knees" after a period of self-isolation. Such a programme does already exist but only for agricultural producers. It has proven an effective measure for which there is demand among businesses in agricultural areas."

At present, Center-invest Bank is agreeing loans on an individual basis, depending on the borrower’s situation and business plans. The ESG-banking model applied by Center-invest Bank requires that we take a responsible attitude to both our own business and our customers’ businesses.

The various restrictions that have been introduced in Russia are having a financial impact on some of our customers. The bank’s focus is on analysing the situation faced by these customers and targeted work to minimise the impacts.

Center-invest Bank is carefully analysing its customers’ needs and the decisions of the Russian government and the Bank of Russia so that it can devise optimal solutions to help protect its customers’ businesses. These include the use of state support mechanisms.

The video conference participants supported Center-invest Bank’s initiative and agreed that loans were needed not to pay wages, but to transform business ("not to pay waiting staff, but to buy a scooter to deliver lunches").