Dubai SME
Dubai SME Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai SME, the agency of Dubai Economy mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, rolled out innovative initiatives and strengthened its support to the entrepreneur community in 2020, enabling them to stand up to the unprecedented challenges brought in by COVID-19. Start-ups and entrepreneurs in Dubai received over Dh192 million worth of incentives in 2020, compared to Dh170 million in 2019, as Dubai SME strengthened its efforts to support members overcome the pandemic challenge.

Added initiatives and incentives by Dubai SME to help start-ups withstand the pandemic challenge has taken the net volume of support provided by Dubai SME to Emirati entrepreneurs and national companies since its inception to Dh823.16 million.

The past year also saw 1,675 Emirati enterprises being launched in Dubai, compared to 1,470 during the previous year, which showed a strong appetite prevailing among UAE nationals to establish own businesses despite new challenges, and also reinforced the emirate’s status as a competitive hub for successful entrepreneurship and innovation.

With the significant additions to the start-up community, the number of Dubai SME members reached 4,786 by the end of 2020, of which 74 per cent were commercial licences while the remaining were in the Intelaq category of licences for home-based businesses. The net value added by enterprises to the GDP in Dubai is estimated to have reached Dh6 billion by end of 2020 and together, they accounted for over 43,000 jobs.

The year 2020 also accounted for Dh43.3 million in a total of Dh123 million worth of loans provided by Dubai SME Fund to entrepreneurs and start-ups since its inception in 2002, reflecting the added attention of the SME development agency on ensuring business continuity and growth in the face of the pandemic. Dubai SME members also won contracts worth Dh896.7 million under the Government Procurement Programme (GPP) in 2020 and the net value of GPP contracts awarded to them till date has now crossed Dh7.5 billion.

The number of SMEs that benefitted from the financial advisory services of Dubai SME Fund last year was 536 while a total of 42,128 SMEs took advantage of various kinds of advisory services provided by the agency since its establishment. Another 532 member SMEs were supported by way of commercial promotion services, while 11,264 people attended the various training programmes offered by Dubai SME Entrepreneurship Academy on new and emerging disciplines of entrepreneurship, including crisis management and innovation.

Meanwhile, the Hamdan Innovation Incubator (HI2) in Dubai SME, which has a portfolio of over 600 innovative start-ups, supported 30 members with various incentives and packages. Last year also saw a significant addition to the number of business incubators and accelerators accredited by Dubai SME as part of ensuring support, guidance and follow-up to emerging and innovative SMEs.