Is anything possible if the UAE govt is behind it? SMEs set to grow exponentially in next few years
The UAE is set to witness a gradual increase in the number of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the next few years as more Emiratis develop an interest for being self-employed, according to Ebrahim Al Mansouri, chief operations officer at Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.
“There is an incremental demand from UAE nationals to be self-employed and business owners, and we foresee that this attraction will escalate through time as people have a better understanding about [SMEs],” Al Mansouri told Gulf News.
“With this development, and attractive investment opportunities provided, and support of the government, they will definitely feel more secure and more comfortable about taking risks, so they will be comfortable about being engaged in the SME sector,” he added.
Al Mansouri was speaking on the sidelines of the tenth annual International Network for Small and Medium Enterprises (INSME) forum, which is currently taking place in Abu Dhabi.
The forum, which is hosted by a different city every year, is being held in the emirate for the first time amid vast attendance from UAE-based SMEs, and international speakers.
To support such an increase in SMEs, Khalifa Fund provides funding and consulting for entrepreneurs. Funding includes various packages that go from a cap of Dh50,000 to Dh10 million, depending on the size of the business. Meanwhile, the consultations provide entrepreneurs with information about legal aspects, developing the business plan, and how to sell the product, among other aspects.
“Khalifa Fund’s strategy is based on two main elements; first of all, we try to promote a culture of entrepreneurship; and the other is the creation of SMEs in the UAE. We try to promote competitive SMEs, and active participation from UAE nationals,” Al Mansouri said.
Discussing the challenges in the SME market, Al Mansouri said they include litigation framework, which present a hurdle when starting up a business. He said the bankruptcy law, for instance, should be clearer in order to secure businesses.
During the forum, Hussain Al Nowais, chairman of Khalifa Fund, discussed the SME market, and remarked that the sector provides 86 per cent of jobs, and contributes to about 60 per cent of gross domestic product.
Since its inception in 2007, the Khalifa Fund has invested Dh941 million in the SME sector, and benefited over 670 Emiratis.
By Sarah Diaa