TECHNOLOGY firm Cisco Systems, Inc. (Cisco) announced on Monday its interest-free financing program for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to help them invest in technology and accelerate their digital transformation during the pandemic.

“The 0% financing program will provide SMEs access to necessary technological enablers from Cisco that include software, hardware and services without breaking their budget,” Cisco said in a statement e-mailed to reporters on Monday.

SMEs, under the program, will enjoy a three-year, full payout lease plan “where they pay equal 36-month payments on their Cisco purchases,” which cost between $20,000 and $300,000.

Cisco launched the program amid the coronavirus virus pandemic that has badly affected SMEs in the country.

Cisco Managing Director for the Philippines Karrie C. Ilagan said: “The outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) has had a huge impact on SMEs across the country. However, the situation has also brought about a rapid shift in mindset of SMEs to be more receptive to the idea of integrating technology in various aspects of their business and accelerate their digital transformation journey not as a means of survival in the current environment but also for driving future growth.”

Cisco noted that many SMEs are now looking to adopt technology and digitize their operations.

“The new program from Cisco provides financial support to SMEs that seek to equip themselves with the necessary tools and solutions to accelerate their business in the new digital era. These include tools for virtual meetings and collaboration, cybersecurity solutions and networking equipment,” the company also said.

Raz Mohamad, Cisco’s director of commercial and small business for the ASEAN region, noted that SMEs are the backbone of Southeast Asian economies, accounting for over 85% of total businesses and making up the main contributions to private sector employment in the region.

“They are currently facing the biggest challenges to their operations. Technology can help solve some of their key challenges and revitalize their operations. It is more important than ever for partners like Cisco to provide the much-needed assistance, not just through our solutions and expertise but also through programs that can help alleviate financial concerns,” he added. — Arjay L. Balinbin