Micro and small companies in the Northeast of Brazil remain among the main focuses of the BNB (Banco do Nordeste – Bank of the Northeast), whose target for disbursement to the sector this year is 1 billion Brazilian reais (US$ 610 million). This challenge is being reached through work turned to specific market sectors, reduction of interest rates and differentiated treatment to economic sectors like retail trade and tourism, among others.
These actions were intensified after 2004, when the BNB signed a cooperation agreement with the Sebrae (Brazilian Micro and Small-Business Support Service). The document forecasts that both institutions promote the expansion and improvement of micro- and small-company access to credit, considering the enterprises located in the area of operation of the Bank of the Northeast, including the north of the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo, and greater exchange of information, cooperation and other related activities.
In 2007, the volume of funds budgeted for credit to micro and small companies was 600 million reais (US$ 366 million). The volume of operations approved exceeded the forecasted budget by 25%, reaching 753.1 million reais (US$ 460 million).
For 2008, a budget of 1 billion reais (US$ 610 million) has been established. In June 2008, 49.5% of this total had already been reached, with disbursements of 495.4 million reais (US$ 302 million), in 32,551 operations.
The manager of the Financial Service Access Unit at the Sebrae, Alexandre Guerra, explained that the agreement signed between these two institutions prioritizes three axes: expansion of the analysis and concession process, credit advisory as well as support to priority sectors and activities – like tourism, sheep and goat farming and retail trade.
"The Bank of the Northeast is a bank with great knowledge of the reality of local micro and small companies," said Alexandre.
The superintendent of the business area at the BNB, José Walter Bento de Freitas, explained that a short while ago the 'Business Environment with Micro and Small Companies' area was established at the organisation, aimed at developing business strategies to expand the client base and business. "Supporting micro and small companies is promoting the development of the region and of the country," stated Walter.
In the areas that have demand, managers are dedicated to assisting micro and small businessmen. Today, of the 177 agencies of the BNB in the country, 60 have this kind of professional.
The bank also works with Development Agents who, at the site, identify the most productive chains in a given region. This work of prior structuring has contributed to supply more guided to the needs of micro and small companies.
"When we identify that businessmen need greater training, we call on the Sebrae. We invest not only on the pre-credit consultancy, but also in post-credit consultancy. In this sense, we have already established two partnerships with the Sebrae: one in Rio Grande do Norte, with the Live Company Program, and another in Ceará, for consultancy. The idea is that, in partnership with the Sebrae this work may be developed in all the states in which the organisation operates," explained José Walter.