Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

Marcelo Lema, General Manager, Client Financing, IBM Global Financing

By Marcelo Lema

The fact that small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) are a cornerstone of economic recovery and growth is a global truth. In China, SMBs represent two-thirds of the country’s industry, in the European Union, member states have adopted a Small Business Act and in the U.S. they’re the primary source of jobs.
For both mature and growth economies, SMBs are an economic engine, and to fuel their growth, technology is arguably today’s most transformative catalyst. Companies today are gaining competitive advantage through analytics and tackling complex, data-intensive business challenges efficiently and economically through the cloud.
For many SMBs, however, accessing such technology requires not only the resources, but the ability to maintain a healthy cash flow at the same time.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Financial Development Report, more than 90 percent of the countries surveyed said they have not returned to economic pre-crisis levels in terms of their access to capital. This access has been one issue preventing a return to prosperity, at least in the U.S. and China. A National Small Business Association survey indicates that cash flow issues continue to plague a significant number ofAmerica’s small businesses. Among the findings: nearly half of small-business owners report they needed funds at one point in the last four years and were unable to find willing sources.

Meanwhile, in China, Premier Wen Jiabao recently said that banks should prioritize credit support for small businesses and that SMBs should begin to receive preferential tax policies to help foster their growth.

With this environment as a backdrop, IBM Global Financing last year made $1 billion available to IBM Business Partners, who primarily serve SMB clients. The funding was to be spread over an 18-month period, however, it was used up within 12 months, underscoring the SMB’s appetite for capital. To continue the momentum, we recently made $4 billion more available to assist small and medium businesses in their pursuit of new technologies and innovation.

One example of a small business that leveraged new access to funding to fuel growth is Bishop Company, of Whittier, California. This 15-employee tools and equipment distributor serves authorized retailers across the country. With stagnating online sales and a lagging economy, Bishop Company needed to create a stronger online presence to deliver a shopping experience to meet the needs of a younger generation of sophisticated consumers. Working with IBM Business Partner Zobrist Consulting Group, Bishop was able to secure IBM Global Financing within minutes. The online retailer was then able to create a robust site that has become the driving force in its growth and has helped it increase sales by 200 percent.

Bishop found success through technology financing. I urge other established institutions to do the same. When SMBs benefit from financing, technology and growth, we all do.

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Posted by: Hilario
January 13, 2013
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The attractiveness and appeal of IBM’s technology and services, is multiplied tremendously when IGF steps into the picture with financing. It’s clear that SMB’s have an incredible economic ‘punch’ when they are provided with the right fuel for growth. That fuel is generated by your team’s innovative and accessible leasing and/or financing solutions. Congratulations Marcelo on the multitude of offerings you’ve released in 2012 for SMB’s around the world. I wish you continued success in 2013.

Posted by: William Karasis
January 10, 2013
4:17 pm

As you have rightly pointed out, this is the segment driving growth and it is exciting to see this initiative help these companies build their businesses. Moreover, in our flat world, technology will allow the SMBs to compete against the multinational behemoths – regardless of where the opportunity resides. Access to capital for technology will soon see some of these companies become the Googles or Twitters of tomorrow. What a nice way for IBM/IGF to become an integral part of their success story!

Posted by: Af Assur
January 10, 2013
2:22 pm

Marcelo, thank you very much for the insight and why all of us need to continue focusing on SMB as the growth engine of any economy. I think IGF has still a great opportunity helping clients in this space as we have built and continue to refine eg the Small Deal Engine Business with our Partners , while a lot of banks as well as their financing/leasing subsidiaries are still in turmoil, slowed down for a variety of reasons and rather focusing on themselves, eg internal issues, capital restrictions and governmental restrictions rather than providing dedicated financing solutions to their customers. In 2013 and beyond, I think IGF has a unique opportunity as well as a competitive advantage to truly help our SMB customers, establish and foster footprints, grow market share and provide strong returns to our shareholders.

Posted by: Theo Leuze
January 10, 2013
12:09 pm

IBM’s software business has grown over the last decade through the efforts of enabling SMB customers with software solutions to allow them to “punch above their weight” in their respective industry. As a result many of these customers grew their businesses and graduated from the SMB classification to be considered aligned S&D customers.

It will be the SMB’s of today that become the aligned customers of tomorrow.

You absolutely hit the mark Marcelo, many thanks for sharing!

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January 1, 2013
12:38 pm

Small business is the only way for normal people to rise above their current status and excel in life.

Posted by: Rick Godman
December 30, 2012
9:50 am

Mr. Lema, I’m from Peru. This country is a developing one. In our case, the data shows there is a negative relationship between growth and the number of MSE’s. Maybe because our small bussinesses doesn’t have the same characteristics than developed countries’ small bussinesses. If that situation were true, our goverment have to promote new policies to our MSE.

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December 21, 2012
4:59 pm

Without a vigorous community of small entrepreneurs, small businesses and incentives for start ups there will never be robust economic or sustainable development.

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