POST BANK REORIENTATES TO SMALL BUSINESS
Investment crediting gains speed. The number of clients who seek larger loans, to be repaid at longer terms including grace periods, increases. The share of small firms that draw credits from the banking system is 23 per cent. In the beginning of April 5.5% of them were clients of Bulgarian Post Bank, but its managerial team projects their share to reach 7% by end-June. Almost 2,200 loans worth a total of BGN75MN has been extended so far by the financial institution to small and medium-sized enterprises. Most of the borrowers are manufacturers and traders. According to statistics, 56% of these funds were used as turnover capital last year, while now they are mainly invested in the purchase of equipment, premises, and transport vehicles. The new specialized loans of Bulgarian Post Bank are aimed to ensure easier access of small firms to long-term crddit resource, which would enable them to plan at ease both money for turnover needs, and investments in long-term assets. As of June 16 Post Bank offers six new credit products to the representatives of small business. They are united in the Partners programme and present felxible schemes of combines guarantees and competitive interest rates (between 11.5% and 13.5%). The loans can be in range of BGN15,000 and BGN500,000 and could be used for short-term financing or for investments. The automatic renewal of the credit line, offered Post Bank, is advantageous to its clients. Only a declaration from the borrowr is necessary. The firms can plan and ensure the money they need for a longer time period and considerably lesson their expenses for the loan. Movable or immovable property, worth up to 120% of the demanded credit, could be put in pledge. The term for repayment is between one and seven years, including a gradce period of six to eight months. Under the Practice sub-programme for crediting, small firms can use turnover loans of up to BGN250,000. Its three products offer various amounts, terms and possibilities for drawing loans. Thew Progress sub-programme is intended for the purchase of equipment, transport vehicles, and premises for business purposes. It is in compliance with the small enterprises' needs of long-term financing and offers advantageous grace periods and rlieved schemes for repayment at 3-month instalments. The product is intended for getting loans of up to BGN500,000 at a longer repayment period, up to 84 months. Progress Bonus has been specially developed for micro enterprises with personnel up to 20 people. Loans up to BGN40,000 can be received under it, and the instalments can be made in three or four months. There is no requirement for opening of working positions. Over the last few months the number of good-quality, economically grounded projects from small firms has increased. This gives reason for strengthening the expansion into that sector. At the same time, the bank does not allocate loans to clients who are just launching a business. It is mandatory for the company that applies for a credit to be in a fair financial state. The group of small enterprises has already gained positions and this is proven by the higher number of clients' deposits. In the end of the first quarter of 2003 they were 1 million and are much more now, Elena Bocheva, head of Small Business Credits at Post Bank, said for the BANKER weekly. For a second year in succession the firsm will learn details about Post Bank's new products and how to apply for them at seminars, presenting the novelties. The seminars began on June 16 and will be held in thirteen Bulgarian towns till June 25.