The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of offering financial support to corporate supply chains, but the Global Supply Chain Finance Forum has also noted how the availability and the cost of traditional payable finance programmes are still a challenge for many SMEs. Ethical and inclusive supply chain finance is the only way to sustainably help supply chains for the long-term good of all participants.
The pandemic has shone a spotlight on to the topic of supply chain finance (SCF). Demand for working capital has been at unprecedented levels for all companies, but this is particularly true for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), where access to capital can be challenging and expensive at the best of times.
The results from a recent C2FO worldwide survey to more than 8,000 SMEs, highlighted a rush to a wide range of funding options in 2020, including traditional banking, asset-backed loans, factoring and a steady uptake of SCF programmes. However, the cost of such short-term liquidity has been rising due to high demand and uncertain economic conditions, especially for small businesses and access for SMEs is often challenging.
In addition, different sectors have experienced varying levels of impact. On the one hand, industries such as medical supplies, grocery retail, and white goods have seen spikes in demand and have welcomed the ability of SCF to support the increased working capital needs of their supply chain in order to support the increased business volumes. But on the other hand, suppliers in industries with significant downturns have been supported during tough times due to the available cash flows from SCF. Again, this is particularly true in the SME segment where average cash reserves tend to be less than 30 days.