As part of efforts to assist SME growth in the emirates, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry launched its ‘Guidelines for Enhancing SME Finance’ during a seminar held at its head office today.
The seminar, held in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy, sought to highlight efforts aimed at reducing the gap between supply and demand of SME finance. It provided SMEs with a unique opportunity to learn what essentials are required when applying for financing, how to maximise the effectiveness of an application, and speak to bank representatives on the spot.
Speaking on behalf of Dubai Chamber, H.E. Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman, said that enhancing SMEs’ access to finance was an effective way of ensuring Dubai’s continued development as an international trading hub.
“SMEs represent over 90% of Dubai businesses and they play an essential role in building a competitive private sector and contribute significantly to employment and economic activity in Dubai and the UAE,” he said.
“Despite their integral role in Dubai’s economy many of our SME members continue to face difficulties securing financing at sustainable rates. In fact, the UAE’s total bank lending to SME’s is around 3.85%, when its target is 24.3%, so addressing this issue has been a primary task for Dubai Chamber,” H.E. Al Ghurair said.
“Today’s seminar was a culmination of work over the past year and a half and served as an ideal platform for Dubai’s public and private sectors to discuss solutions to the current challenges SMEs face securing financing.
“We are delighted to launch our ‘Guidelines for Enhancing SME Finance’. It is a valuable resource for the business community and will help SMEs better understand the requirements of applying for finance. We hope that by providing clarity for SMEs we can help them become more successful in their applications,” His Excellency said.
H.E. Eng. Mohammed Al Shihhi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy, delivered the key note speech about the importance of adequate financing for SMEs.
His Excellency said that SMEs contribute an estimated 40-46% of nominal GDP for Dubai and more than 60% of GDP of the UAE. He said that SMEs host the majority of employment opportunities in Dubai and the UAE, and that these enterprises provide 86% of the employment in the private sector.
“Unfortunately, the banks’ focus on big loans for big corporations is also affecting Government efforts to encourage private business as a step towards reducing unemployment among Emiratis,” H.E. Al Shihhi said.
“The Ministry of Economy is aware of the immense potential and contribution of SMEs to national growth and is making all the effort to support this sector. In this context, it will be the Ministry’s effort to launch the SME Law at the earliest,” His Excellency said.
“The Ministry of Economy has been working very hard with its federal and local strategic partners on the SME Law and its definition. The Ministerial Committee has just approved the law draft and it will be sent soon to the Federal National Council,” he said.
“We are giving this law significant importance as it is a high strategic priority to be completed along with the definition by the end of the year. This law will play a major role in easing financing for the SME sector,” His Excellency said.
Dubai Chamber’s ‘Guidelines for Enhancing SME Finance’ provides a list of required documentation as well as tips designed to help SMEs make more successful applications. The guide also provides applicants with contextual examples to help identify the most important aspects to focus on, while providing guidance on what to emphasise in discussions with a bank’s relationship manager.
The seminar featured speeches by Mr. Mohammed M. Abdulrazzaq, Head of Business Banking Dubai, HSBC Bank, who talked about application-relevant documentation requirements, and Mr. Douglas Stoneham, Head of SME for UAE and Middle East, Standard Chartered Bank, who gave tips on how to ensure a successful interview with a financier.
Following the speeches a panel discussion between bankers and SME representatives was led by Dr. Belaid Rettab, Senior Director, Economic Research and Sustainable Business Development Sector, Dubai Chamber.
Also present were representatives from the following banks including Standard Chartered Bank, HSBC, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Mashreq Bank, Emirates NBD, Union National Bank, Emirates Islamic Bank, and
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, who each had a stand to facilitate on the spot meetings with SMEs.