Dubai: SME, the agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED) mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, and NASDAQ Dubai, the region’s international exchange, on Tuesday signed an agreement to guide SMEs towards suitable financing options to fund their growth, including carrying out an initial public offering (IPO).

The agreement underlines the commitment of Dubai SME and NASDAQ Dubai to promoting the expansion of high-quality SMEs, whose potential for rapid growth is set to play a critical role in the continuing expansion of Dubai’s economy.

The exchange will offer its services to support the growth of Dubai SME100 companies — a ranking of the top SMEs in Dubai compiled by Dubai SME — to evaluate the benefits of a listing on NASDAQ Dubai as well as the processes involved in joining its market.

Dubai SME and NASDAQ Dubai also plan joint workshops to help Dubai SME100 companies consider a wide range of financing options, and may hold roadshows with selected companies to help them attract global investors.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to this effect was signed by Abdul Basit Al Janahi, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai SME, and Hamid Ali, Acting Chief Executive of NASDAQ Dubai, at the 3rd Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Dubai.

Al Janahi said: “The Dubai SME100 programme is a significant step in bridging gaps in the SME sphere and enabling SMEs to evolve. Insufficient access to financial capital remains a major challenge that prevents SMEs from achieving their full potential and the most effective way to overcome this is to comply with the best international practices and grow convincingly.”

Al Janahi added: “The agreement with NASDAQ Dubai takes the Dubai SME100 programme a step closer to its objective of creating an indirect pipeline of SMEs for a secondary SME listing market in Dubai. This will help SMEs attract capital and new talent, gain access to new markets and remain the chief engines of economic development and job creation in Dubai.”

Dubai is home to more than 72,000 SMEs, contributing over 40 per cent to Dubai’s GDP and accounting for 42 per cent of employment.

Hamed Ali said: “NASDAQ Dubai believes that the growth of the SME sector is critical to Dubai’s ongoing economic success, including job creation and further upgrading the skills of the workforce. The exchange provides an ideal platform for SMEs to raise capital to fund their growth plans locally, regionally and even internationally. This includes the ability to sell shares in an IPO at market value, as well as the option to retain control of the company, as no more than 25 per cent of the shares need to be sold.”

“The exchange offers unique access to regional and international investors, as well as global visibility as companies expand together with world class regulation. Companies can list with a market capitalisation of as little as 10 million dollars.”

Under the MoU, Dubai SME and NASDAQ Dubai may conduct events with capital markets advisers and industry bodies to highlight the importance of investor relations (IR).

They will also make Dubai SME 100 companies aware of NASDAQ Dubai Academy training courses in IR, governance and other topics.