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Antonio Rodríguez, Interview with Bankia's Corporate Director of SMEs.

Business

Antonio Rodríguez: "SMEs cannot throw in the towel. At Bankia, we are by your side to help you continue with your business”

Interview with Bankia's Corporate Director of SMEs

Bankia Comunicación

By  Bankia Comunicación

Publish on 
12 May 2020 - 10:30

Antonio Rodríguez is Bankia's Corporate Director of SMEs. On European SME Day, the manager talks about the challenges facing small and medium-sized companies in the face of the crisis arising from COVID-19 and how Bankia has implemented a package of measures to help them convert the threat into an opportunity.

The coronavirus crisis has had a major impact on the Spanish business fabric, in which SMEs play a fundamental role. Why is it important that they get through this and resume their activity as soon as possible?

The statement contains the answer: Spain is a country of self-employed workers and small businesses. It is essential to ensure that this pandemic reduces this production fabric as little as possible, because the well-being of many people depends on it.

What measures has Bankia taken to help this sector during COVID-19?

From the outset, at Bankia, we have implemented specific actions to support the sector, from the possibility of postponing the maturity of working capital lines of financing or the granting of bridge financing to the lines endorsed by the ICO where we have already consumed the first two tranches and we continue to receive high demand from our customers. But, as we like to say at Bankia, there are still many possibilities for financing beyond the specific COVID 19 lines. It is a question of being able to know the situation of each business well in order to help find the best alternative that will help its continuity. It is important for us to know that for every 100 euros of financing that Bankia is giving in this situation with an ICO guarantee, we are giving another 45 euros without a guarantee.

From Bankia we have implemented concrete actions to support the sector, from the possibility of postponing the expiration of working capital financing lines or the concession of bridge financing to the lines endorsed by the ICO, and always providing the best solution to each business.

Antonio Rodríguez
Bankia's Corporate Director of SMEs.

In the first week of May, the de-escalation began and the road to new normality was opened. What challenges do SMEs face in the short term and how can they meet them?

We really are travelling through unknown territory that we have never faced before. The road to recovery of activity will differ greatly depending on the type of business and the new health regulations that undoubtedly condition many activities. We all depend on an external variable, which is the evolution of the pandemic and we are all sure that people’s health comes first. In addition, we are unaware of customers’ reaction to these new circumstances that affect them not only as consumers, but also in their ability to spend depending on whether or not they have been affected by a reduction in income. Given so much uncertainty and although the way to deal with this new reality will also be very diverse, it is very important that each company adheres to its principles and values, those that have allowed it to be chosen by customers and have the capacity to adapt to new needs and requirements.

In this context, I would like to point out that they can count on us to meet their financial needs and to try to answer any questions that they may have. At Bankia we have been saying for years that we want to be a kind of partner for our business customers and I think that this idea is now taking on more value than ever. We have specialists in many fields and we are willing and prepared to support them in whatever they may need, be it advice, financing, digitalisation, etc.

How will Bankia support small and medium-sized companies in their return to day-to-day operations?

As we have always done: by being there so that we can advise properly and help entrepreneurs to make the best decisions. We have a team of 400 specialist managers in addition to 2,000 branches that allow us to get to know our customers very well and, at any given time, to be able to make a value proposal according to the circumstances and business expectations of each company.

Do you think that SMEs can make this crisis into an opportunity? Can having gone through this rough patch help new SMEs with a specific business model or strengthen existing small and medium companies?

We at Bankia always think that any threat can be converted into an opportunity. For example, in this crisis unmatched by its characteristics, many companies have realised that we can interact with customers without being physically present and yet maintain a high level of service. I think that any business project is a success story right from the start, and that its future viability consists in being an option chosen by customers. This will not change now. No doubt, new projects will emerge, but companies that have been in the market for longer have substantial levers to enhance their experience and knowledge of their customers.

12 May is European SME Day. At times like this, what message would you send to those who are in charge of a small business and are working to get afloat?

Don’t throw in the towel. Undoubtedly, the situation is very complex, but there are many alternatives to overcome these difficulties and not abandon projects that have involved so much effort. At Bankia we are at their disposal to advise them and help them to find a solution to allow continuity of their businesses, which are always projects that involve a lot of people.

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