Magazine Portrait Jochen
Jochen Knecht, CEO, IFZA

IFZA’s performance has been remarkable, surpassing all expectations in terms of growth in just 5 years through its unique business model. With an average year-on-year growth of more than 400%, IFZA has continued to thrive despite global challenges. To support this continued growth, we have expanded our international operations significantly over the past year.

How Does IFZA set itself apart in a highly competitive market?

With more than 70 Free Zones in the GCC - about 47 of them in the UAE alone and growing - the special economic zones landscape in the region is indeed undergoing a rapid transformation.

One of the important ways that IFZA differentiates itself is through our unique partnership-focused business model. By working with over 1,500 Professional Partners across different cities worldwide, IFZA provides businesses and entrepreneurs with a more personalized and culturally tailored service. This has led to an extremely high renewal rate among our licensees.

By placing trust and transparency at the core of our strategy, we can attract local and international businesses, and continuously give them reasons to establish long-term roots for their companies here in Dubai.

How does the IFZA ecosystem fit into your growth strategy?

The evolving IFZA ecosystem is a comprehensive network of support services and resources that go beyond company formation in Dubai. This includes banking-related and property services, knowledge sharing through the IFZA Academy, and personalised support from our global network of Professional Partners.

More than 50 per cent of SMEs struggle with opening a bank account in Dubai, while others have difficulty in finding the right insurance packages, office spaces and even working with various regulations. The IFZA ecosystem is specifically designed to help businesses throughout their entire lifecycle from company setup to expansion and to empower them to achieve long-term success and growth.

As IFZA continues to attract thousands of global entrepreneurs, we focus on areas where we can add greater value and equip our Free Zone community with effective tools for both sustainable - and sustained - success.

How Does IFZA manage to stay relevant in a rapidly changing marketplace?

IFZA is actively preparing for the future by exploring emerging industries and technologies that can help us remain competitive and relevant in a rapidly changing global marketplace. One of the industries that we are paying particular attention to is the Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) industry, which is growing rapidly in response to the rise of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

With the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies and the growing acceptance of blockchain technology, the VASP industry is expected to continue to grow to as much as $11.7 Billion by 2030. This presents a tremendous potential for the UAE Free Zones to be the hub for VASP businesses and IFZA has positioned itself to contribute to its growth.

Of course, as the local and global economy evolves, IFZA’s adaptability enables us to be the ideal partner for these emerging industries and technologies.