Global bank HSBC today launched its latest International Trade SME Fund, committing Dh1 billion to UAE SMEs, said a press statement. Open to new and existing customers with cross-border trading requirements, 30 per cent of the Fund will be allocated to Emirati owned businesses. Not only was HSBC the first bank in the country to have a dedicated SME team, HSBC was also the first bank in the UAE to launch a dedicated SME Fund back in 2010, which was then followed by a second in 2011. Both were hailed an outstanding success – with the first being successfully allocated within six months, and the second in only three. This latest Fund is the third tranche in HSBC UAE’s flagship SME Fund programme. Abdulfattah Sharaf, Chief Executive Officer of HSBC Bank Middle East, said: “Today we are excited to announce the launch of the HSBC International Trade SME Fund, allocating 1 billion AED to local SMEs. At HSBC, we remain deeply committed to the UAE and the businesses that support the country’s economy. We continue to work extensively with Free Zones, relevant government authorities and key working groups to ensure that the segment flourishes and grows. “This year’s Fund strongly focuses on SMEs with international trading requirements. Trade continues to be a strong area of focus for HSBC both regionally and globally. A trade bank by origin, HSBC believes that it can continue to add value to this segment through leveraging this strength, its global footprint and extensive expertise.” Rana Al Emam, Head of Business Banking, HSBC Bank Middle East Limited, added: “International trade is critical to global economic recovery. Previous HSBC commissioned research shows that 76 per cent of mid-sized corporates already conduct cross border business, and over 90 per cent of UAE-based businesses are currently involved in international trade.” “The types of applications we received for our previous Funds fully support these statistics. 67 per cent of our initial fund was awarded to customers who required international trade facilities. And, a healthy 87 per cent of our second Fund was allocated to internationally oriented SMEs. It is clear that businesses are positioning themselves to make the most of international opportunities - taking advantage of international trading corridors - in order to grow and succeed.” Talking about the benefits the HSBC SME Fund 2010 brought to his business, Nishant Vora, Director of Gulf Worldwide said: “We’d like to thank HSBC for its continued support. We were a beneficiary of the first SME Fund and this really helped us grow our business and expand our sales and distribution network into new international markets – such as India and Asia. This is where we needed the global scale and the expertise of HSBC on our side, and we could not have done this without them.” In addition to the International Trade SME Fund, HSBC will be hosting its first SME Awards Ceremony in Q4 2012. The Bank looks forward awarding businesses across three categories: International SME of the year; Emirati Entrepreneur of the year and Best referring Business/Strategic Partner. Judging criteria and results will be independently verified by an external auditor.