Interview with ALMI: COVID-19 Support

ALMI is a Swedish state-owned company that provides loans and business development services in different regions in Sweden. Regarding these financially devastating corona times, lots of questions about economic offers and business development support have risen.

Rami Almudafar, a Business Developer at Almi Skåne, gave important details of different offers regarding common concerns in our startup community and shared his opinions and tips with his expertise.

• What kind of support is available now at ALMI, for startups?

Almi’s purpose of helping companies becomes even more important in times like these. We want to be there, with qualitative business development and risk-willing financing for startups and traditional businesses. During this crisis we have, just like we tell our startups to do, iterated our value proposition.

This resulted in the launching of our new "bridge-loan", that could be described as a quick liquid injection for a low cost. The loan has soft terms and we can give deferment on both the amortization and the payment of the interest for the first 12 months.

We have also structured up some of our business development to make it more suitable for the unpredictable situation our companies are in. As an example, we have a service where we analyse the customers’ current and coming economic situation, without digging into the numbers of various reports. In this program, we can create different simulations of changes that the company may go through, such a loss of income, change in personnel, etc. We look at how the simulations affect the company’s economic situation and what preventive measures could be taken. The economy can sometimes be frightening for entrepreneurs and we believe that we have found a way to communicate through these heavy subjects in an easily understood way.

In the middle of the crisis, we have also started a project, Equal Business Growth. Studies show that companies run by foreign-born women have a strong desire to grow and to a large extent employ more. At the same time, we know that these companies do not receive part of the publicly funded support-system to the same extent as other companies. During 2020–2021, Almi runs the Equal Business Growth project, with the mission to carry out extraordinary efforts for this target group to scale up its operations.

• What are the criteria for your different packages?

For the bridge loan, the main criterion is that there is a sustainable underlying business. The company applying for the loan should have intact shareholders’ equity and that the company historically has a good result.

When it comes to business development the only requirement is that the company has the will and ability to grow, no matter if they are in the startup phase or later on. Given these two factors, our business development is available and free of charge for startups. In the corona crisis, it is also free of charge for mature companies.

• What is the application procedure?

For the loan, the best way to apply is through our website. Make sure that you have a business plan, budget, and fresh economic reports ready. The same goes for our business development where you only have to fill in an "intresseanmälan", a short introduction of who you are, what the company does, and what you need help with. Thereafter a business developer will contact you.

• What should startup founders/leaders be thinking about during these times?

Seeing many companies during the crisis, I would say it's extremely important to study your liquidity and the shareholders’ equity. There has to be a plan for how to hold these two together. If not – let us help you with that.

I have seen many people quote Winston Churchill in these times with his famous "don’t let a good crisis go to waste". I think it’s suitable for the times we are facing. Many of the startups I meet have already changed business models, acted on the supports given from the government, have given more time to product development and finding product-market-fit, etc. Most of the startups I meet are energetic, already used, and drilled to meet the fast-paced world of today.

• If possible, could you share some statistics on how much help have you provided to your applicants?

This period has been crazy for us. We have had handled more than 5x the applications that we did the same period last year and doubled our loans. The added demand on our services led to 6 new employments with expertise in finance and an AI solution to help us with some of the administrative burdens that come with the loans.