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Drivers and Obstacles to Banking SMEs: The Role of Competition and the Institutional Framework

  • Augusto de la Torre
  • María Soledad Martínez Pería
  • Sergio L. Schmukler

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are important for employment and economic activity; however, they are perceived to lack adequate financing, which hampers their growth. As a consequence, governments have implemented a number of programs to foster SME lending and attention has focused on improving the institutional environment, such that the financial system is more willing to lend to SMEs. In this paper, we directly ask banks (the main providers of SME external finance) what factors they perceive as drivers and obstacles to financing SMEs. We also study to what degree competition and the institutional framework play a role in banks’ decisions. To do so, we use a unique survey of banks in Argentina and Chile, two neighboring emerging countries with significant differences in how their institutional environments are viewed, and thus expected to shape banks’ willingness to deal with SMEs. The paper shows that, despite alleged differences in the countries’ environments regarding rules, regulations, institutions, and ease of doing business, SMEs have become a strategic segment for most banks in both countries. In particular, banks have begun to target SMEs due to the significant competition in the corporate and retail sectors. They perceive the SME market as highly profitable, large, and with good prospects. Moreover, banks are developing coping mechanisms to overcome the particular institutional obstacles present in each country and to compete for SMEs. Banks’ interest in SMEs is not based on government programs, yet policy action might help reduce the cost of providing financing, especially long-term lending.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2651.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2651
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  1. Beck, Thorsten & Klapper, Leora F. & Mendoza, Juan Carlos, 2008. "The typology of partial credit guarantee funds around the world," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4771, The World Bank.
  2. Stephanou, Constantinos & Rodriguez, Camila, 2008. "Bank financing to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Colombia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4481, The World Bank.
  3. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Laeven, Luc & Maksimovic, Vojislav, 2006. "The determinants of financing obstacles," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 932-952, October.
  4. Beck, Thorsten & Demirgüç-Kunt, Asli & Maksimovic, Vojislav, 2008. "Financing patterns around the world: Are small firms different?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(3), pages 467-487, September.
  5. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. "Legal Determinants of External Finance," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1788, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  6. de la Torre, Augusto & Schmukler & Sergio L., 2004. "Coping with risk through mismatches : domestic and international financial contracts for emerging economies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3212, The World Bank.
  7. Mirjam Schiffer & Beatrice Weder, 2001. "Firm Size and the Business Environment : Worldwide Survey Results," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13988, September.
  8. de la Torre, Augusto & Martínez Pería, María Soledad & Schmukler, Sergio L., 2010. "Bank involvement with SMEs: Beyond relationship lending," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(9), pages 2280-2293, September.
  9. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-4295079 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Meghana Ayyagari & Thorsten Beck & Asli Demirguc-Kunt, 2007. "Small and Medium Enterprises Across the Globe," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 29(4), pages 415-434, December.
  11. de la Torre, Augusto & Gozzi, Juan Carlos & Schmukler, Sergio L., 2007. "Innovative experiences in access to finance : market friendly roles for the visible hand ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4326, The World Bank.
  12. Augusto de la Torre & María Soledad Martínez Pería & María Mercedes Politi & Sergio L. Schmukler & Victoria Vanasco, 2008. "How Do Banks Serve SMEs? Business and Risk Management Models," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12959, The World Bank.
  13. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-4731699 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Demirgüç-Kunt, A. & Beck, T.H.L. & Honohan, P., 2008. "Finance for all? : Policies and pitfalls in expanding access," Other publications TiSEM aec73d3a-d6eb-457f-9182-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
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