Nearly four in 10 South Korean small and medium enterprises (SMEs) think first-half business conditions were worse than during the 2008 global financial crisis, a poll showed Wednesday. According to the survey of 500 small and mid-size exporters, 36 percent of the respondents said overall conditions had deteriorated compared to the second half of 2008, when the world reeled from the collapse of U.S. investment giant Lehman Brothers. Only 19.3 percent said things had improved in the last three years with 44.8 percent saying nothing had changed since the worldwide financial crisis, according to the poll by the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business. According to the findings, 40.3 percent expected the current economic crisis triggered by Europe\'s fiscal problems and general growth slowdown to hurt business for some time to come. Local exporters plan to cope with the problem by diversifying overseas markets, implementing austerity measures and increasing their cash reserves. SMEs are experiencing difficulty in borrowing money with 29.5 percent saying high interest rates were exerting a burden on business operations. Others cited banks\' stringent requirements for collateral, the survey showed.