The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is providing the Vietnam International Commercial Joint Stock Bank (VIB) with a $185 million syndicated loan. 

The IFC-led financing package aims to address two key development challenges in Vietnam: the financing gap faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and a lack of affordable housing.

“The much-needed syndicated funding from IFC and participating banks will help grow VIB’s SME and affordable mortgage portfolios, positioning the bank to become one of the leaders in these segments,” said Mr. Han Ngoc Vu, VIB CEO. “The long-term financing is particularly relevant in Vietnam, where debt markets are still nascent, limiting the funding channels and options for financial institutions.”

The five-year financing package comprises $100 million from IFC’s own account and $85 million from three international lenders: Cathay United Bank Co. Ltd, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd., Hong Kong Branch, and Thailand’s Kiatnakin Bank Public Company Ltd.

“This syndicated facility marks a milestone for VIB and other local privately-owned banks in Vietnam in accessing long-term funding from foreign commercial lenders, enabling them to grow longer-term financial products such as residential mortgage lending,” said Mr. Kyle Kelhofer, IFC Country Manager for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. “This project will support the country’s key development goals of creating jobs, developing SMEs, and strengthening industrialization and urbanization.”

Of about 600,000 formal active SMEs, only 30 percent could access bank capital with the total loan amount accounting for just 3 per cent of banks’ portfolios. As Vietnam aims to emerge as a manufacturing and commercial hub in Southeast Asia, long-term funding for SMEs is becoming more critical. Rapid urbanization is also creating new demand for housing in major cities, with estimated needs of 374,000 additional units in cities annually.  

Given the scenario, the IFC’s long-term funding commitment would enable VIB to double its SME and affordable housing portfolios over the next five years, lending more than $1 billion in total.

VIB joined IFC’s Global Trade Finance Program in 2011 and the current trade line of $120 million has enabled it to help local companies increase their import and export activities and create jobs. IFC also advised the bank on SME banking to effectively and sustainably serve SMEs, one of its strategic segments, going forward.