The UAE Banks Federation, the unified representative and voice of UAE banks, organised a webinar on growth opportunities and innovation of banking solutions for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) under the theme “Changing Landscape of SME Banking in the UAE” on the 3rd of November, as part of its efforts to support this important sector and enhance its role in the economic and social development in the UAE.
The webinar was to discuss ways to support the small and medium enterprise sectors by facilitating their access to banking services and providing them with the necessary funding enabling them to play an important role in driving various economic sectors and creating more jobs.
The UAE Banks Federation stressed the importance of providing appropriate banking and financing solutions to small and medium enterprises, especially in the current period, which is marked by challenges due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly the SME sector.
The workshop discussed opportunities to improve the banking system and develop innovative banking and financial solutions that meet the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises and help them improve their banking, especially in the context of digital transformation in the banking sector and the economy in general.
The webinar was attended by several officials, experts, banking and financial sector professionals and government agencies involved in supporting the sector, Mr. Marwan Al Suwaidi, Director of Finance, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development; Mr. Pradeep Rana, Group Chief Risk Officer, FAB; and Mr. Imad Gharazeddine, Co-founder and CEO of Mamo.
Mr. Ahmed Al Naqbi, CEO of Emirates Development Bank, gave a presentation on government initiatives to support the sector, while renowned media personality Richard Dean moderated the following panel discussion on ways to facilitate SMEs’ access to financial and banking services.
Mr. Jamal Saleh, Director General of the UAE Banks Federation, said, “SMEs represent a vital sector and a key driver of many economies around the world. In the UAE, they account for more than 90% of all businesses, contribute more than 60% of the GDP and provide jobs for around 85% of all private sector employees. There are many pioneering initiatives by the government to encourage the growth of these enterprises, such as the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development, as they contribute to accelerating and deepening the strategy of economic diversification and create more employment opportunities in line with the UAE’s objectives to focus on the knowledge economy and innovation.”
He added, “Organising a workshop on changes in banking services for the SMEs sector is in the interest of the UAE Banks Federation to provide an integrated and appropriate system for the growth of this sector and to ensure the suitability of banking solutions, services and products for the requirements of entrepreneurs, as it constitutes easy access to finance and banking services. As key pillars for boosting and revitalising the economy, and given the digital transformation the world is experiencing, there are numerous opportunities for banks and financial services providers and the SME sector to learn from each other to innovate and provide appropriate solutions to strengthen the UAE’s position as a hub for regional and global entrepreneurship.”
Furthermore, the Director General also noted that UBF gives top priority to entrepreneurship and has launched an initiative to support SMEs in order to promote entrepreneurship and create an accessible financing environment to meet the needs of this important sector. He said that UAE Banks Federation will continue to launch major initiatives to support the sector to complement what it has been doing for years. The Federation also has an online platform for SMEs (www.uaebf.ae/SME).
Closing the webinar, Mr. Dhiraj Kunwar, Managing Director of Business Banking RAKBANK and Chairman of the SME Committee of UAE Banks Federation, delivered a speech summarising the key outcomes and recommendations, emphasising the Federation’s determination to continue supporting the sector.