DUBAI: Expo 2020 Dubai is proving to be a boon for small- and medium-sized businesses, SMEs, investing Dh2.4 billion in the sector to date and signalling more contracts will come as it progresses to the next phase of delivery.
The first World Expo ever to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia has committed to diverting 20 per cent of its total direct and indirect spend towards SMEs, and as construction on the site nears completion, organisers are urging more SMEs to register on Expo’s Online Marketplace, OMP, to take advantage of billions of dirhams in new tenders soon to be listed.
Jaber Nasser, Associate Director — Procurement, Expo 2020 Dubai, said, “The upcoming wave of new tenders will span a variety of sectors and rely chiefly on SMEs to deliver the works required. The value of opportunities to be listed will amount to billions of dirhams in contracts.”
Of the 34,904 businesses registered on the OMP, 85 per cent are SMEs, a sector which won 55 per cent of all direct and indirect contracts awarded by Expo 2020 — equivalent to Dh2.4 billion — as of 31 March 2019.
The OMP is a free, high-powered eProcurement platform and database where businesses from all over the world can post and award tenders as well as advertise services. All Expo 2020 tenders are exclusively listed on the OMP.
“The OMP is an invaluable tool for matching suppliers with the extensive business opportunities Expo 2020 offers,” Nasser said. “Almost 35,000 businesses from more than 151 countries are registered on the OMP, and we want to encourage even more, especially SMEs, to register to collaborate with Expo 2020, its extensive network of partners and each other.”
Nasser’s call comes on 27 June, declared World SME Day by the United Nations in celebration of businesses around the world that employ less than 250 people. SMEs form the backbone of the global economy and, according to the UN, hold the key to creating the 600 million new jobs needed by 2030 to keep pace with the growth of the world’s working age population.
As part of its commitment to supporting the SME sector, Expo 2020 has pioneered a number of initiatives to make it easier for SMEs to do business with the event. These include clearing payments in 30 days instead of the industry standard of 90 days, guaranteeing a 50 per cent payment upfront when procuring goods, or 25 per cent when contracting services, and accepting bank cheques instead of deposits.
Earlier this month, Expo 2020s Official Banking Partner Emirates NBD announced a new account designed specifically for SMEs registered on the OMP, providing them with preferential loan rates, working capital support and low minimum balance requirements.
The largest event ever held in the Arab World, Expo 2020 Dubai will be held from 20 October 2020 until 10 April 2021 and expects to record 25 million visits. A six-month celebration of creativity, culture and collaboration, more than 200 international participants, including 192 countries, educational establishments, companies and multilateral organisations, will take part.