HSBC UK launches £500m green SME fund

HSBC UK has announced the launch of a £500 million Green SME Fund as part of its commitment to support businesses of all sizes to transition and thrive in a low carbon economy.

This follows HSBC’s global commitment to provide between $750 billion and $1 trillion of financing and investment to support its customers over the next 10 years.

While the sustainable finance market has predominately focused on larger corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises are increasingly being described as the ‘new front’ in the battle against climate change.

The new £500m fund is available for businesses with a turnover of less than £25m and will offer 1% cashback on loans, starting from £1,0002 to help SMEs invest in green activities. This is the first green offering for small businesses with a cashback proposal in the UK.

To qualify for the cashback, evidence must be provided that the use of the loan proceeds meet HSBC’s Eligible Criteria for Green Activities, which have been independently reviewed by Sustainalytics.

HSBC UK is also launching a Sustainability Assessment Tool that provides actionable insights and resources to help businesses transition to net zero.

Speaking from COP26 on Friday, Ian Stuart, CEO HSBC UK, said: “I am delighted to announce the launch of HSBC UK’s £500m Green SME Fund.

“Companies of all sizes and sectors have a role to play in the journey to net zero, however the sustainable finance market has been predominately focused on larger corporations. It’s critical that access to funds isn’t a barrier for small and medium sized businesses working to achieve lower carbon emissions.

“We want to help businesses seize the opportunities and growth potential that environmental sustainability offers and the fund, along with our new and expanding suite of tools and resources, will make it easier for small businesses to take practical steps to cut their emissions and help their customers to cut theirs too.”

HSBC has said that businesses of all sizes need to act now, as they face increasing governmental pressure to reduce emissions, as well as increased pressure from consumers.

New research from HSBC UK has found that despite half of businesses feeling pressure from customers, government and the media, just 23% are measuring environmental metrics. While a quarter of small businesses want to play their part, believing that a focus on environmental sustainability will grow their business in the next 12 months, they told us that cost is a key barrier.

HSBC UK said it wants to help remove the barriers small businesses face in the drive to transition to a lower-carbon economy.

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