Santander Bridges SMBs With China

U.K. bank Santander is hoping to bridge local small businesses to the Chinese market, and is kicking off a series of networking events that bring entrepreneurs to Shanghai.

Reports in Express on Sunday (July 8) said Santander is first taking 15 U.K.-based small businesses in the baby products industry to Shanghai for networking. To date, reports said, the bank has completed 25 of these so-called trade missions, and will conduct more networking events for small businesses. The bank is on path to beat the total of 43 trade missions completed last year.

“What we are trying to do is look at what companies need to to trade abroad and provide it to them,” said Santander U.K. Head of International John Carroll. He added that small businesses often struggle with logistical support to make cross-border trade a reality, despite having financial support in the form of banks and accountants.

Santander is also reportedly coordinating with French grocery giant Carrefour, which operates more than 250 markets in China, to connect small businesses with information about how to expand into the market.

Brexit is raising concerns that small businesses will have an even harder time expanding into China and elsewhere, reports said. According to Carroll, Germany-based companies are establishing U.K. subsidiaries to prepare for any Brexit-related impacts on trade.

Other initiatives from Santander to support small business customers include its partnership with Tradeshift last year to increase SMBs’ access to trade financing, as well as its collaboration with Kabbage in 2016 to similarly connect small firms to loans.

Earlier this month Santander announced it would be upgrading its corporate payments infrastructure using technology from iGTB. With that deal, Santander said it hopes to expand its B2B services across Latin America and Europe by increasing businesses’ visibility into payments, and offer clients cash management services.