Small business owners are confident the remainder of 2018 will be a period of strong growth.

A new MEED survey of 75 of the UAE’s top SMEs conducted recently shows more than 60% are confident of achieving as much as 20% growth compared to their performance last year.

For 13% of the respondents, an even more robust growth of over 50% is expected by the end of the year. The remaining survey participants indicated business prospects are likely to increase anywhere from 20-40%.

The survey was conducted by MEED, organisers of the Gulf Capital SME Awards, to gain insights from business owners ahead of the launch of this year’s edition, the awards aim to celebrate the success and growth of SMEs and business leaders in the UAE.

“The results of the survey show a promising outlook not just for the SME sector but for the entire UAE economy. Small businesses comprise a majority of registered business in the Emirates and contribute a substantial 40% to the country’s GDP. The strong growth prospects of SMEs over the coming year and their increasing confidence and optimism should augur well for the business community in general and for aspiring entrepreneurs in particular,” said Dr Karim El Solh, co-founder and CEO of Gulf Capital, one of the largest alternative asset management firms in the Middle East and the headline sponsor of the awards.

When asked how they hope to achieve their growth targets, 28% said they will be increasing their investments on sales and marketing initiatives, while 21% will focus their efforts on product development and innovation. Around 11% of the respondents, meanwhile, will be looking at enhancing strategic partnerships to help them grow their business.

Close to half of the respondents, at 47%, also found the business environment in the UAE to be nurturing of SMEs. However, 37% of the polled business owners mentioned that securing bank financing for small businesses is still a big challenge and proving to be a burden for their operations.

“The UAE has done well globally and is ranked 21st among all nations in terms of ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank report. The government has established many initiatives to encourage the growth of the entrepreneurial sector and is constantly introducing many innovations to help SMEs thrive and grow. Opening a new license, for instance, can be done easily online and within minutes, provided all the necessary documents are prepared. The private sector has also launched many programmes to support start-ups through various incubation programmes and providing alternative investment opportunities. We welcome the results of the survey and use it to further improve our services and programmes at Dubai SME,” commented His Excellency Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME, the agency of the Dubai Department of Economic Development mandated to develop the SME sector.

With many SMEs expecting a strong year, competition is expected to be tough for the 2018 Gulf Capital SME Awards, which will recognise outstanding small business, entrepreneurs and business leaders in various categories, including Gulf Capital Business of the Year, Business Innovation of the Year, Online Business of the Year, Customer Focus of the Year, Start-up Business of the Year, Sustainable Business of the Year, People & Culture of the Year, Small Business of the Year, Micro-Business of the Year and Disruption of the Year; as well as three individual awards for Business Leader of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year and the New Entrepreneur of the Year. Supporting the UAE’s aggressive push for entrepreneurship among its citizens, the programme also recognises locally-owned SMEs with the Emirati Business of the Year award.

“Year-on-year we receive a record number of entrants, which we believe is a testimony to the continuing growth of the SME sector, as well as a case for the awards programme’s benefits for not just putting the spotlight on the success of various stakeholders involved, but also inspiring a new set of entrepreneurs that keep the industry thriving with new business ideas,” said Becky Crayman, Programme Director, Awards and Managed Events, MEED.

Entries may be submitted online at on or before 6th June 2018. Gulf Capital SME Awards is endorsed by Dubai SME and Khalifa Fund as well as supported by Ripe Markets and My Micropolis.


Source: Design Unlimited Partners