Smart tools help SMEs grow amid inflation and cash flow woes

SMEs in Asean are increasingly tapping on digital solutions

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) today face new challenges, even as they’re recovering from over two years of pandemic disruptions.

“Managing cash flow is one of the biggest priorities for us, and for SMEs in general,” says Mr Brando Tan, director of Band World (Asia), “with global challenges such as high inflation and rising interest rates that will continue in the months ahead, and the rising cost of goods and utilities.”

Band World is a Singapore-based wholesaler and retailer of musical instruments. The company purchases woodwind and brasswind instruments from across the world and distributes them across South-east Asia.

“As an SME, we have limited cash,” he says. “While we definitely want to grow our business and capture opportunities when they arise, we also need to be prudent with our business decisions.”

Mr Tan’s sentiment is echoed by others. The Asean SME Transformation Study 2022, launched late last month, found that maintaining a healthy cash flow is an immediate business concern for 44 per cent of SMEs in the region.

UOB, professional services firm Accenture and business analytics company Dun & Bradstreet collaborated on the study. It surveyed 1,500 SMEs from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, with equal representation from each country.

Over half (54 per cent) of SMEs surveyed said that their existing cash flow can only sustain them for less than six months.