Interview with Carl-Johan Karlsson, Business Director of Small and Midcap at EKN. EKN is The Swedish Export Credit Agency, an authority with the task to promote Swedish exports by insuring the risk of not being paid in international transactions. Further, EKN insures banks' lending to both exporting companies and their buyers. From having been working with Swedish big global enterprises like Ericsson and Volvo for years, EKN is also financing scale-ups.
We launched our new product after having met with start-ups and scale-ups at an event, and I realized that many SME's did not even consider the bank as a lendor. Angels or VCs was the way of their mind" says Carl-Johan Karlsson.
Actually 40% of the export from Sweden is made by smaller or medium sized companies, and the number of companies is growing. EKN realized they have to be in this space.
Small and midcap companies are in general less familiar with the possibilities of loans through the bank with EKN risk backing. The explanation is probably that they are more used to the VC and angel space" says Carl-Johan Karlsson.
Sweden is a cleantech unicorn factory. The Swedish corporate landscape has changed drastically during the past years. It seems reasonable that the risk taking for EKN's capital of 500 Billion SEK has to be available to all sizes and stages of companies in Sweden, not only the biggest few. And with the present growth pace, any SME might be a giant in a few years.
The new product is named Export Leap and is available for companies that have been in business for less than 3 years, and has at least one year of audited financial figures. EKN will stand 75% of the risk for the bank's loan, the credit time being 5 years.
My advice to entrepreneurs is always to actually find out what the bank can help out with. A loan can be paid back by not giving away capital. We can help companies to get in touch with banks" says Carl-Johan Karlsson.
The other product in this segment is the Green Credit Guarantee. Here EKN is financing working capital and the risk coverage is 80% to the normal 50%. The project has to have green targets, and the investment should be aimed at green equipment. One example is the largest ever sub-Saharan solar project where 370 MW solar with Hitachi ABB Powergrids electrify rural areas and help combat climates change. Another is the world's biggest Offshore wind farm in the North Sea.
Sweden is leading the green energy transistion and the green industry development, and is world leader in electrification. We, and what we call TEAM SWEDEN, a network of government authorities supporting businesses, are here to help in the export of these new innovative fields and are pleased to be a partner to Sweden Sustaintech Venture Day" says Carl-Johan Karlsson.