Ministry of Economy launches new vision for Small and Medium Enterprises
The Ministry of Economy launched a new vision for the National Programme for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), aimed at providing entrepreneurs and SME-owners in the UAE with several new and integrated initiatives and services. The new set of services are designed to provide national businesses with more growth possibilities and improved market access.
During a media briefing held today (Wednesday, March 16, 2022), H.E Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, announced the launch of various initiatives which comes as part of the three main programs presented by the National Programme under a new platform. This further reflects changes in the services provided to citizen entrepreneurs to support them in developing their projects, thereby enabling them to increase their contribution to the country’s economic diversification efforts and growth in line with the goals of the ‘Projects of the 50.’ These programs include the Government Procurement Program, the Business Support Program, and the Financing Solutions Program. H.E. Al Falasi noted that the National Programme for SMEs has so far formed more than 25 partnerships with leading institutions in the public and private sectors, which have been contributing to the development of initiatives and services under the three programs.
H.E. Al Falasi said: “The announcement of the new programs and services under the National Programme for SMEs is in line with our wise leadership’s vision, which places the citizen first, second and third in our developmental priorities. It places absolute faith on entrepreneurs, and recognizes the importance of entrepreneurship as a major driver for building the future economy and achieving more flexibility, sustainability and innovation in the national economy in accordance with the principles and goals of the Projects of the 50. Our efforts to develop SMEs and support entrepreneurial projects led by Emirati youth will continue, by providing them with all the facilities and necessary tools to achieve commercial success, business continuity and growth. He pointed out that SMEs today represent 94 per cent of the total companies and institutions operating in the country and contribute more than 50 per cent to the country’s GDP.
Furthermore, H.E. Al Falasi reviewed the most prominent indicators that reflect the advanced position that the UAE has achieved in developing its entrepreneurial environment to world-leading levels, as:
• The country ranked first globally in the Global Entrepreneurship Index 2022 and ranked first in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report as the best destination in the world for establishing and starting businesses and having the most supportive environment for entrepreneurship.
The number of commercial licenses registered for Emirati entrepreneurs increased from nearly 23,000 in 2019 to about 29,000 in 2021, with a growth rate of 26 per cent.
• It hosts a number of fast-growing pioneering companies and Unicorns that originated from the UAE before going global, such as Careem, Souq.com, Kitobi, Swvl and others.
H.E. said: “Through the new programs and initiatives that we are announcing today, we look forward to achieving further progress in the country’s entrepreneurship system by providing integrated services to UAE national entrepreneurs, serving their business growth and enhancing their market share.” He added that the National Programme for SMEs under the Ministry of Economy is keen to consolidate its role in supporting Emirati entrepreneurs as a major platform for these business owners to avail it’s the advanced services.
H.E. Al Falasi clarified that the new services represent a continuation and expansion of the National SME Program’s efforts during the last phase, and that a dedicated team within the ministry cooperated with various partners and communicated with citizen entrepreneurs to better understand their needs and challenges, and then later developed a new vision which integrates the services, incentives, initiatives and partnerships in order to provide services that consider future needs and keep pace with the ambitions of entrepreneurs.
With regard to the new Government Procurement Program, H.E. Al Falasi explained that the Ministry of Economy renewed its partnership with the Ministry of Finance to enable Emirati entrepreneurs to register on the Federal Procurement Platform in a more efficient and seamless manner. The National Programme, in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance, will allocate special workshops on the platform to enable member entrepreneurs to access various information about procurement and contracts available in the Federal Government. The two parties will also form specific committees to look into any challenges facing Emirati entrepreneurs regarding the federal platform.
The Minister further noted that the National programme at the initial stage will coordinate with the government procurement of three federal entities namely the Ministry of Education, the Emirates Foundation for Health Services, and the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. He emphasized that the goal of this stage is to put in place the appropriate processes to ensure the involvement of the federal procurement in serving the needs of citizen business owners, and thereby expand the scope of the initiative to ensure success, achieve the desired outcomes, and provide advanced services that include all ministries and target entities.
H.E. continued: “What distinguishes the launch of this government procurement program today is the expansion of the entities participating in this initiative, This is made possible through a series of partnerships signed by the program with national institutions. So far, 13 partnerships have been concluded, including the ones with the United Arab Emirates University, Emirates Post Group, Emirates Transport, Zayed University, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du), Higher Colleges of Technology, Federal National Council of the UAE, Etihad Airways, and Etisalat Group.
In addition, the Minister underlined that there is great interest from all concerned entities with the implementation of this initiative, in line with the directives of the wise leadership. “We also see a great demand from the private sector and national companies in the country to participate in this initiative and support it in a way that serves citizen entrepreneurs who own small and medium enterprises Efforts in this direction are continuing, and we will announce more partnerships in the coming months to expand contracting opportunities for SMEs that are members of the National Programme. During the next stage, we will also work on developing well-studied indicators to measure the performance of these partnerships and the efficiency of the work mechanisms used to ensure that they achieve the desired results,” H.E added.
In addition, H.E reviewed the efforts of the National SME Program to develop the “Business Support Program” through which, various services are provided to entrepreneurs based on special partnerships forged by the Program in this regard. These services include:
• Telecoms service, in partnership with the Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat), and will contribute to providing a more efficient and advanced digital services to Emirati entrepreneurs.
• Accounting and internal audit service through several partnerships held by the National Programme with seven national companies specialized in this field, representing a service from entrepreneurs to entrepreneurs.
• Enterprise resource planning service through important partnerships that allow entrepreneurs to access effective digitization of institutional resources as the best way to manage resources in projects, as well as high-level consulting services that contribute to the development of national projects and enable them to grow.
• Insurance services, where the program has developed partnerships to provide insurance solutions, especially for health and vehicle insurance programs
• ‘Incentives program, through a continuing cooperation agreement with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation which offers reduced cost in labor recruitment commensurate with the capabilities of small and medium enterprises, making them more flexible.
Elaborating on the financing solutions program offered by the National SMEs Programme, H.E. said for members through an integrated partnership between the National Programme and the Emirates Development Bank. These tools currently include:
o The Business Banking Services Application: It is one of the innovative technological solutions that enable entrepreneurs to open their bank accounts within a few minutes and activate them within 48 hours.
o Financing solutions: include crowdfunding, loan guarantee, and direct lending
o Non-financial services: include specialized advisory services and solutions
o The ‘Sanad’ initiative: Through this initiative, the Emirates Development Bank has allocated financial liquidity worth AED 100 million, and aims to support the recovery and acceleration of the business of Emirati SMEs affected by the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Al Falasi said that the working group in the ministry will constantly work to develop partnerships and services to serve Emirati entrepreneurs. “Our ambition is for the program’s platform become the main go-to platform for every Emirati entrepreneur, and we will make sure to provide all the tools to meet all major requirements that will enable Emirati entrepreneurs to cope with challenges in the market and contribute to their growth and success.”
H.E. urged various entities and companies to continue supporting the country’s entrepreneurship programs and participate in the National Programme for SMEs to contribute to providing incentives and unique services to entrepreneurs to further boost their contribution to the country’s global competitiveness and promote growth of the national economy.
The Ministry of Economy explained that it provides all information related to the services and initiatives of the National Programme for SMEs on the programme’s website https://www.uaesme.ae/ and that it welcomes any inquiries about these services, initiatives and programs via the program’s e-mail at the address uaesme@ economy.ae or on the unified phone number of the Ministry of Economy 8001222.