Managing supply chains with technology – automation, efficiency and inclusion
  • Innovation & Transformation
    • Improve Efficiency

Managing supply chains with technology – simpler, faster and better connected

  • 3 min read
  • Article

HSBC’s collaboration with Unilever in Bangladesh demonstrates how technology helps large companies better manage and finance complex supply chains

Bangladesh is an increasingly important market for consumer goods. As one of the world’s fastest growing economies, levels of consumer spending have more than tripled over the last decade. Its population is now in a position to purchase a wider range of goods than ever before.

Unilever has a long history operating in Bangladesh, providing a wide range of home and personal care products, as well as food and other refreshments. As a result, it has an extensive supply chain across the country that consists of several large firms and many small-to-medium-size enterprises.

Managing such a complex supply chain can be challenging, from both an operational and financial perspective. These issues are addressed by HSBC’s Supply Chain Finance (HSCF) platform – a solution that Unilever Bangladesh started using to manage its supplier network in 2021. It works by providing competitive working capital finance to the user, as well as to its network of suppliers.

The ability to offer competitive working capital finance across an entire supply chain means we can deliver a better experience and add value, especially to SMEs who can realise greater potential from the speed and simplicity of our digital services.

Md. Mahbub ur Rahman | CEO, HSBC Bangladesh

In October 2021, HBSC held a virtual roadshow to highlight HSFC’s capabilities, with a focus on the successful collaboration with Unilever. The event was attended by 18 suppliers.

As an automated solution, the electronic platform digitises the end-to-end process of financing the invoices of suppliers, requiring no manual intervention from the approval of the invoices to crediting the proceeds to a recipient’s account. It also centralises financial supply chain data, which not only provides high levels of visibility, but also reduces manual errors, and provides quick and timely updates.

HSCF is particularly well suited for Unilever’s SME suppliers who are reliant on less cost-effective unstructured lending programmes. When using the platform, they do not need to set up a credit limit or change their current banking providers to receive improved financing terms. After Unilever started using HSFC, its average asset utilisation grew by 46% over the last year.

By ensuring access to finance of our small and medium suppliers and helping them grow, we not only positively impact those business owners and their workers, but help their families and communities become more prosperous, and thereby more resilient.

Kedar Lele | Chairman and Managing Director, Unilever Bangladesh

At HSBC, we believe that by helping our customers effectively manage their supply chains, we can create a positive effect on the world. Financial expertise, combined with tech-driven solutions, allow us to help better manage trade risk, and efficiently process trade transactions and fund trade activities. All of these benefits make it easier for our business customers to connect to new markets and trade partners around the world.

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