Adeeb al-Afifi, director of the programme at the UAE Ministry of Economy, said the entrepreneurial and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector was an area of focus because of its role in developing the country’s economy and increasing its diversity, sustainability and competitiveness, as well as promoting innovation and knowledge in economic activities and the business sector.
Specialised programmes for entrepreneurs are to be featured, along with completing a link with the European Business Network, organising an SME Forum, participating in exhibitions and competitions for SMEs and innovation.
Afifi said the national programme for SMEs has created an attractive environment, through facilities and establishing initiatives, to help entrepreneurs enter the market. He added that the efforts enhanced entrepreneurs’ ability to increase market shares and obtain investment.
Afifi pointed out that the plan for 2020 included activities to empower entrepreneurs and encourage and enable SME owners to learn best practices and trends in entrepreneurship development.
He said the plan is designed to enhance administrative and commercial capabilities and innovative practices to allow the companies to achieve commercial success, become sustainable and expand activities as well as connecting them to new regional and global markets.
Afifi said that the past year has seen an increase in projects that are part of the digital system of the national programme for SMEs to reach 2,000 entrepreneurs, compared to the 1,500 projects in 2018. He said he expected that number to reach 5,000 entrepreneurs by the end of 2020.
He said the plan will focus on programmes to help entrepreneurs develop projects and raise leadership, innovation and technical capabilities.
Organisers said they plan 50 training sessions for more than 3,000 entrepreneurs across the Emirates, in addition to a programme to train SMEs trainers. Afifi explained that the programme would connect entrepreneurs with the European Business Network, which includes 11,000 companies, to exchange information and experiences, organise events and discuss opportunities for partnerships.
He pointed out that the projects listed in the programme would participate in the Small and Medium Enterprises Forum during an annual investment conference. The forum will be an opportunity to connect projects with international companies investing or searching for commercial and investment opportunities in the United Arab Emirates.
He emphasised this would enhance the exchange of knowledge and access to innovative practices involving development of start-ups and SMEs.
The plan includes expanding a membership database and services provided for projects, as well as implementing the national programme to support start-ups. It includes the Canton International Fair in China, taking part in a trade delegation to the Netherlands and activating memoranda of understanding for cooperation with Sweden and Azerbaijan.
There are also plans to participate in the Franchise Business Exhibition in Riyadh, the Small and Medium Enterprises Exhibition in Dubai, the Emirates Exhibition for Small and Medium Enterprises, the Ras al-Khaimah International Exhibition for Small and Medium Enterprises and the Arab World Award for Innovative Small and Medium Enterprises.
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