Maersk has perfected plans to launch its new digital trade finance solution known as ‘Maersk Trade Finance’, which is aimed at providing customers with easy access to capital in foreign currency to fund their international trade, in South Africa.
Introduced to simplify customers’ supply chain needs, Maersk Trade Finance represents a different way of financing containerised shipments. It is a simple, end-to-end digital solution that removes the paper trail from traditional financing options, and ensures faster release of funds at gate-in.
According to the company, the solution has since 2016, disbursed $0.7 billion in loans to over 200 customers worldwide and it focuses on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), known as the productive drivers of inclusive economic growth in South Africa and around the world.
Researchers estimated that South Africa SMEs make up 91 percent of formal businesses, provide employment to about 60 percent of the labor force and total economic output accounts for roughly 34 percent of GDP.
“Focusing on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) represents a strong opportunity for Maersk to introduce more customers to our end-to-end supply chain and logistics products, services and solutions. In that sense, South Africa is a critical market for us,” explains Vipul Sardana, global head of Trade Finance for Maersk.
While contributing significantly to the economy, SMEs often face difficulties in accessing finance such that the ICC Banking Commission puts the trade finance gap in Africa, between USD110 billion and USD120 billion.
“While trade finance has been a catalyst for expansion, for most SMEs, access to funds has been restrictive due to strict collateral requirements and credit background checks. As digital trade finance develops into an essential alternative, SMEs will be able to access additional capital for their growth,” explains Dirk Van den Berg, head of Maersk Trade Finance in South Africa.
“In other words, this one-stop-shop provides a more effective way to manage the ocean leg of end-to-end global supply chains, both financially and operationally,” adds Van den Berg.
The growing Maersk Trade Finance network of offices stretches from India to Netherlands, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and the United States (all states other than California).