EghtesadOnline: In line with the state-backed policy to accelerate the growth of knowledge-based firms and startup ecosystems in Iran, cheap loans will be offered to eligible companies and emerging enterprises in less-developed villages.
The loans are to be financed by the National Development Fund of Iran.
According to the website of the Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology, Isti.ir, the office has reached an agreement with the government-affiliated Office for Rural Development to offer low-interest rate (4-10%) loans from the National Development Fund of Iran to potential knowledge-based businesses located in deprived areas.
The officials did not furnish more details about the prerequisites or lending conditions, Financial Tribune reported.
The financial assistance is expected to boost the emergence of new businesses and support small enterprises in rural areas, prepare the ground for the realization of sustainable and reliable employment in villages and curb migration toward big cities.
Firms and groups active in fields like livestock and poultry farming, horticulture, medicinal herbs, agricultural engineering and machinery, natural resource management, mines, information and communication technologies, tourism, sports and culture can apply for the loan to strengthen and expand their businesses.
The mobilization of the capabilities of tech firms and knowledge-based companies in Iran is gaining momentum in various fields.
In line with the trend, Amir Nazemi, a deputy ICT minister, said on Thursday tech teams working on smartphone applications can apply for low-interest loans to the tune of 1.5 billion rials ($132,000).
Officials note that financial facilities can help motivate tech firms to work harder and the government highlights its lending to tech firms as an "attainment".
However, some experts believe offering loans and grants are the worst kind of help that can be offered to them.
Iran E-Commerce Guild Organization is strongly against “cash handouts and loans”, saying that government-sponsored loans will divert startups from the right path.
“Over time, they will get deep in the red and instead of relying on their resources and capabilities, they will seek more and more of the same," he said, suggesting that the government should focus on taming the bloated bureaucracy, cut insurance costs for startups and offer tax holidays.
The latest report published by the Central Bank of Iran on unpaid loans of knowledge-based companies has revealed startling data, which support Shalileh's arguments and raise concerns among experts.
On its website on Feb. 24, CBI said unpaid loans of knowledge-based companies until Dec. 21, 2018, amounted to a staggering 70.1 trillion rials ($617 million), of which 18% (13.1 trillion rials/$115.4 million) constitute bad debt.