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Trade Finance For SMEs: Bridging The Financing Gap

Finance BY Shahanawaz
Trade Finance

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are often seen as the backbone of most economies worldwide. They bring innovation and employment opportunities and drive economic growth in both developed and emerging markets. However, unlike large corporations, SMEs do not always have easy access to finance.

One significant challenge faced by many SMEs is a lack of available financing options. Fortunately, Trade Finance offers a viable alternative funding option that can help bridge this gap.

What Is Trade Finance?

Trade finance involves various financial instruments used by importers and exporters to facilitate global trade transactions securely. Typically these transactions involve goods trading across borders with an agreed-upon payment scheme between the parties involved in the trade transaction.

How Trade Finance Works

In simple terms, trade finance intermediaries provide pre-shipment or post-shipment financing services using different tools like Letters of Credit (LOC), Bank Guarantees (BG), or Open Account Payment processes to manage credit risk, among other things.

The importer’s bank issues LOC on behalf of their clients with their confirmed order or invoice supplied by the exporter, accompanied by the required shipping documents from appropriate authorities serving as evidence of shipment completion. This helps assure payment upon successful delivery, inspection, and acceptance at the port-of-discharge, thereby sharing credit risk between buyer/seller banks during this process.

Types Of Trade Finance Available To SMEs

Types Of Trade Finance

There are various forms of trade finance facilities available to Small businesses. However, here are three common ones:

  • Invoice Factoring – Invoicing/factoring requires selling accounts receivables due within 90/120 days to cash flow companies known as factors, which pay around 80% of the smoothed amount upfront. This also subjects them to contractual management costs depending on the portfolio size and industry-specific business practices.
  • Purchase Order Financing – This solution helps fund inventory purchase orders awaiting end customer sales while investors earn interest off revenues remitted after closing the completed deal(s). The investment firm pays the supplier directly and once sold, repayment goes directly to them, as well.
  • Export Credit Insurance/Guarantees – These programs provide insurance coverage against risks associated with selling goods abroad. This type of solution is ideal for SMEs exporting highly volatile markets or encountering currency exchange fluctuations.

Benefits Of Trade Finance To SMEs

For Small business owners struggling with limited credit access at reasonable pricing due to high-interest rates or lack of collateral, trade finance can serve as a lifeline. Here are some potential benefits:

  • Improve Working Capital And Cashflow Management – By leveraging trade financing solutions such as invoice factoring, organizations can obtain payment upfront and focus on core operations. Instead of waiting for 30-45 days and above while invoices mature, they can achieve swift settlement within sales cycle periods and enhanced growth prospects.
  • Reduce Payment Risks – As long as shipment documents follow contractual terms agreed upon between parties, supplier payments via Letter-of-Credit ensure security in the transaction. The seller need not rely solely on the buyer’s reputation, thereby increasing stability and securing repeat business opportunities.
  • Expand International Trading Opportunities – Many small businesses avoid globalising their trading profile despite having potentially excellent deals in fear of missing crucial funding opportunities. Trade finance removes these factors inhibiting their expansion goals and fosters opportunities for growth.
  • Provide Risk Mitigation – Some Trade Financing providers offer asset-based lending loans (ABL), which are better suited to client needs. These focus less on periodical review cycles and more on mitigating risk-averse impasses which present unexpected challenges irrespective of relative strengths/opportunities.
  • Improving Customer Relations And Retention Strategies – By implementing flexible finance solutions tailored around consumer preferences, Trade Finance can help improve satisfaction levels. This contributes significantly towards sustaining good relationships and avoiding costly turnovers moving forward.


Trade financing has repeatedly proven itself to be a practical developmental framework helping many underbanked entrepreneurs tackle various financial inadequacies that hinder growth, create barriers, and block ambition avenues. Choosing wisely from suitable options can help open doors previously thought inaccessible, prompting positive operational changes and influencing desired improvements.

This helps provide success-driven outcomes that would have otherwise been stagnant without these shared corresponding measures. SMEs now have an effective financing alternative through Trade Financing, enabling them to attain their growth objectives by improving employee relations, increasing production capacity, and maximizing sales revenue.

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Shahnawaz is a passionate and professional Content writer. He loves to read, write, draw and share his knowledge in different niches like Technology, Cryptocurrency, Travel,Social Media, Social Media Marketing, and Healthcare.

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