From autonomous delivery robots to 3D-printed door stoppers, innovations from startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been at the forefront of leading us out of the COVID-19 crisis. Today, SMEs need better access to capital, tools, and expertise to digitise their operations more efficiently.
When the pandemic struck, SMEs were among those who were hit the hardest. Yet thanks to their resilient and innovative spirit, these businesses are now bouncing back. However, to develop an environment where these firms can truly thrive, existing supply chains must be revamped for more transparency and to bring affordable digital technologies on board.
Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI) had extended AED 420 million worth of trade credit to SMEs in the first 11 months of 2020 to help companies protect liquidity during the slowdown in business.
The ECI, in collaboration with the First Abu Dhabi Bank & Crediti Fintech, also launched the ‘UAE Trade Finance Gateway’ to address the challenges faced by SMEs today, such as the shortage of trade finance and technological solutions to build a strong SME sector.
SMEs represent +94% of the total number of companies in the UAE and provide 86% of private-sector jobs.
Furthermore, in June this year, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced several new initiatives aimed at supporting startups and attracting more skilled workers to the UAE. For example, the new accelerator platform, called Scale-Up, supports SMEs by fast-tracking their growth, builds their capabilities and skills, and helps to enhance their ability to attract investment.
The Abu Dhabi Investment Office and Amazon Web Services recently announced that they have teamed up to launch a cloud computing program to train, certify and teach additional skills to SMEs in the emirate. The training aims to equip SMEs with in-demand cloud skills to help accelerate their digital transformation.
Dubai continues to create attractive incentives such as the golden visa residency system for expats, a five-year visa for entrepreneurs, and a program letting overseas remote working professionals live in Dubai while being employed in their home country.
One area where SMEs are the most prevalent today is e-commerce. As consumers started counting more on online shopping due to restrictions on outdoor movements, SMEs had to rely heavily on their logistics partners to ensure business continuity. Hence, access to logistical services is essential for these enterprises as they often face challenges accessing customised solutions and connecting with local capacity and expertise related to this industry.
As a result, the logistics industry has been a key partner for SMEs. It has played a crucial part in getting these businesses up and running, right from helping with warehousing, materials handling, and inventory management, among others.
By providing the right framework for funding, training and attractive incentives, the UAE is well on its way to establishing itself as an incubator for attracting SMEs who will, in return, contribute to the country’s economic development.
SMEs are an integral part of the UAE’s global hub for innovation and creativity and will continue contributing to the country’s vision for a sustainable future. And by ensuring strong partnerships with their logistics providers, SMEs will be able to accelerate their growth and continue to deliver their products to a discerning yet satisfied customer base.