Funding Most Challenging For UAE Entrepreneurs

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Financing still a top challenge for UAE SMEs in 2015

UAE SME Funding
Entrepreneurs pitching to potential investors during STEP Conference 2015 in Dubai. Latest survey from MEED has revealed that despite SMEs playing a significant role in the country’s economy, financing is a big challenge for SMEs in the UAE.


– Expatriates-owned startups accounts for 95% of UAE SME sector
– Majority of UAE SMEs cites financing as one of the biggest challenges

Despite government efforts to support SMEs in the UAE, financing is still a top challenge facing entrepreneurs, a new MEED survey has indicated.

While the government has intensified its support for SMEs through the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development in Abu Dhabi, as well as an equity fund and other financial support provided by Dubai SME, many expatriate-owned start-ups, which account for almost 95% of the SME sector, still face huge obstacles in acquiring financing, the MEED survey reveals.

Out of 152 SMEs surveyed, 67 respondents (or 45%) cited financing as one of the biggest challenges, out of which 21 said acquiring financing is proving to be a very difficult undertaking for small business owners in the UAE.

According to the survey, many SME owners still turn to family and friends as their top source for acquiring finance (49%), followed by banks (41%) and other sources such as private firms, angel investors, and credit cards and savings (10%).

“Much of the difficulty in acquiring financing is rooted in the SMEs’ ability to provide a solid business and financial plan, though that needs to be addressed, entrepreneurs who have built a track record of success should find it easier than most to secure financing. This is where public recognition comes in, as it lends greater exposure for successful SMEs and affirms that they have a solid growth plan,” explained Becky Crayman, Head of Awards, MEED.

In addition to recognising new businesses through the Start-up Business of the Year category, the Gulf Capital SME Awards is also inviting SMEs to submit entries in the following categories: Gulf Capital Business of the Year, Emirati Business of the Year, Small Business of the Year and Online Business of the Year.

The annual SME awards programme also honours impressive performance in key business success factors such as innovation, customer focus, employee-oriented initiatives, as well as sustainability practices and will be accepting nominations for Business Innovation of the Year, Customer Focus of the Year, People and Culture of the Year, and Sustainable Business of the Year. Meanwhile, the Entrepreneur of the Year and Business Leader of the Year awards will recognise outstanding entrepreneurial efforts and inspirational leadership.

The deadline for submission of entries is May 28th.

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