KUALA LUMPUR: The inclusion of SME Bank Bhd into the The Montreal Group (TMG) is a testament to the hard work the bank had achieved in spurring the local small and medium enterprises (SME) landscape for the past six years.

TMG, founded in 2012, is an exclusive global forum for state-owned development financial institution (DFIs) focusing on assisting micro and SMEs while encouraging the exchange of ideas, best practices as well as greater understanding of the international market for the growth of the segment.

“SME Bank’s inclusion into TMG isn’t just an honour for the bank, but also for the country as Malaysia is the only Asean representative within this exclusive global forum,” said SME Bank group managing director Datuk Mohd Radzif Mohd Yunus in an interview with NST Business.

“This is a continuous testament to our unique value proposition of financing and beyond financing model in assisting SMEs, and we are confident that our participation in the group will benefit the bank and stakeholders.”

Thus, the SME Bank’s inclusion into TMG is even more significant given the group’s stringent qualifying criteria.

“Membership into TMG is by invitation only and we started our membership admission process in June last year following a series of relationship building and continuous engagements with TMG,” he said.

“Within this time, we were evaluated through several parameters by TMG to assess our standing which, I am pleased to say was up to the standard.

“By January 18, TMG’s secretary- general Sandra Péloquin notified us that we have been approved as the newest member of TMG. The official acceptance will take place at the upcoming annual meeting in June in Helsinki, Finland.”

Some of the criteria looked at were SME Bank’s financing asset growth of compound annual growth rate at nine per cent, its sustainable bottom line with an average profit before tax of RM30 million and the bank’s consistent dividend payment to its shareholders since 2012. 

The bank also approved total financing of RM26 billion and assisted more than 15,000 SME entrepreneurs since its establishment in 2005.

Its Upward Migration programme has also upgraded more than 800 SMEs to a higher level.

Radzif is confident that the bank’s inclusion into the group will be beneficial to SME Bank’s long term vision — to became a full-fledged and specialised financial institution and an international benchmark to nurture SME excellence while keeping its mandated mission of developing SMEs’ growth engine in line with the government’s economic agenda.

“The opportunity for SME Bank to learn best practices on multiple areas inclusive of governance, risk management, human capital development, delivery channels, product and service innovations and other international standards for potential adoption.

“Inclusion into TMG would enable us to tap an international network of DFIs and SMEs, which means Malaysian SMEs can now collaborate with international SMEs to leverage their products and services,” he said.

Radzif said the bank was currently in the process of finalising the capable SMEs to bring with him to the official acceptance in Finland, as they will be exposed to networking opportunities with other identified SMEs by other TMG members.

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