OCBC introduces program to aid women entrepreneurs

SME Banking
18/04/2024 News

OCBC has launched a new initiative to empower women entrepreneurs in scaling their businesses. The programme offers tailored financing solutions, educational workshops, and networking and mentorship opportunities.

Scheduled for rollout in April 2024, the SME programme in Singapore represents OCBC's first dedicated effort to support women entrepreneurs in the country. Currently, a quarter of OCBC Singapore’s SME customers are female-owned businesses.

Under the OCBC Women Entrepreneurs Programme, SMEs led by women can access financing of up to $100,000 within their first two years of operation, with waived processing fees. This financing falls under OCBC's SME Sustainable Finance Framework, which now includes a category for social loans aimed at advancing women in the economy and promoting the growth of women-owned businesses.

Despite advancements in gender diversity, women entrepreneurs continue to face challenges in establishing and growing their businesses. OCBC's comprehensive proposition aims to address these challenges and support female entrepreneurs in Singapore.

According to OCBC's data:

SMEs founded by women accounted for 23% of newly incorporated businesses in 2018, rising to 30% in 2023.
Women-owned SMEs constituted half of new businesses in Education and Retail, and over a third in Healthcare, Business Services, and F&B.

Women founders are increasingly present in traditionally male-dominated industries such as Manufacturing, Resources, Building & Construction, and Transport & Logistics.

Women-owned SMEs, while registering slightly lower growth in sales turnover within their first three years of operation, experienced growth comparable to male-owned businesses when utilizing financing.

The OCBC Women Entrepreneurs Programme builds on a similar initiative in Indonesia, where OCBC has supported about 1,400 women entrepreneurs since 2020, disbursing over S$300 million in loans.

The programme will later expand to Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Through this initiative, OCBC aims to empower women entrepreneurs, provide them with resources and support, and accelerate their companies' growth.

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