Haitham AlRefaie, the Head of Business Banking Group at NBAD
The National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) plans to launch 8 new business banking centers in 2012 to further serve small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in the UAE.
Since the beginning of 2011 NBAD Business Banking has opened 10 Business Banking Centres all over the UAE.
Two years ago when the world struggled with the financial crisis, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) did not hesitate from investing in serving small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME).
“NBAD realised the potentials for growth in SMEs, which for long had been treated as part of consumer banking, however, what distinguished NBAD strategy in serving this segment is that we positioned NBAD stronger financial standing during crisis to invest in serving SMEs,” says Haitham AlRefaie, the Head of Business Banking Group at NBAD.
Mr. AlRefaie within a year and half increased his Group’s staff by more than three folds. NBAD’s Business Banking Group, which focuses exclusively on SMEs, has produced a number of market leading SME-centric products. To increase the Bank’s accessibility to the sector, NBAD also launched Business Banking Centres, which exclusively serve SMEs.
In just over a year, the numbers show that NBAD’s strategy has work. NBAD increased SME customers by about 8000, an increase of 54%, between the end of 2010 and March 31, 2012. These customers hold multiple products with NBAD.
“About a year and half ago our approach was to devote resources to understand this sector and use professionals who are experienced and specialised in serving SMEs,” Mr. AlRefaie says.
“The NBAD Business Banking Centres recognise the unique needs of SMEs. The set-up, the environ is designed to allow one-to-one, confidential interaction so our professionals can understand each client’s business model and explain our products that meet each need,” Mr. AlRefaie says.
NBAD has so far opened four Business Banking Centres in Abu Dhabi, four in Dubai, and one each in Al Ain, and Sharjah. NBAD will open at least five more centres in the coming months in Ajman, RAK, Fujairah, and Western Region.
The launch of NBAD Business Banking Centres began in tantamount with the Bank’s introduction of new SME-centric products, such as three new Business Current Accounts: Basic, Advantage and the Preferred in addition to that NBAD Business has introduced a Merchant account that offers our business clients the flexibility and rapidity to run their business transactions through a Point of Sale machines; Visa Business Credit Card, which comes with no annual fee and offers 50 days interest-free grace period, travel insurance up to US $150,000, credit limit up to AED 500,000, and cash advance up to 70% of the total limit.
NBAD also introduced in 2011 Business Rent Finance, which offers short term advance from AED 25,000 to AED 500,000 to cover rent expenses.
“Rent is often one of the highest expenses that SMEs incur while running their business. Meeting the cost can either hinder an entrepreneur’s ability to grow the business or even stay afloat. This is why we tailored this product to meet an essential need of the entreprise,” says Mr. Haitham Al Refaie.
Other SME loans offered by NBAD include Business Vehicle Finance, Property Finance; and Foreign Exchange Solutions and other easy-off-the shelf products tailor made for their business needs.
All banks have a great reason to serve and help Nurture the growth of SMEs. This is a market segment that helps economic growth on a number of fronts. In the UAE, this segment contributes more than 46% to national GDP and account for about 95% of all businesses in the country. SMEs are also a major contributor to job creation. Their growth would increase savings and investments. Moreover, SMEs directly support the growth of large firms and spur creation of other companies.
“Nurturing entrepreneurship would ultimately create greater business for us as it would greatly help the growth of the UAE export sector and diversification of the economy away from oil and gas and help the development of Abu Dhabi into a world destination for tourism and commerce,” Mr. AlRefaie concludes.