In 2023, Emirates Development Bank EDB’s contribution to the UAE’s industrial GDP surged by 80 per cent, reaching Dh4.3 billion from Dh2.4 billion on 2022 and bringing the total loans financed by the Bank to Dh8.7 billion since the launch of its strategy in 2021, a senior official said.

EDB also created more than 17,000 jobs — growth that demonstrates EDB’s critical role in the industrial sector and its dedication to fostering sustainable economic practices and employment opportunities, Shaker Zainal, Chief Business Officer at EDB, said at the third Investopia Summit in Abu Dhabi.

Zainal highlighted that EDB, being the only development bank in the UAE, focuses on financing the right transactions and the right projects that support the development of the nation and its economy. He stated that EDB’s long tenor patient debt approach and flexible financing solutions are aimed at empowering businesses of all sizes to drive economic impact.

Zainal also highlighted EDB’s commitment to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), which are integral to the UAE’s economy. With a 72 per cent increase in net approvals of financing amounting to Dh3.3 billion for SMEs during the past year, EDB has significantly contributed to nurturing innovation and growth within this vital sector. He further addressed the challenges faced by SMEs and highlighted EDB’s innovative solutions to make financing more accessible and efficient for these businesses. Through its strategic partnerships with partner commercial banks and fintechs, EDB launched programs like the Credit Guarantee Scheme, digitization finance, trade and supply chain finance and working capital solutions, enhancing SMEs’ financial inclusion and facilitating their integration into the national economy.

He said: “Our approach is unique — we do not only look at the financial viability of a project. We evaluate its potential development impact, its ability to contribute to the UAE’s strategic objectives. It is about growth through economic impact, not just profit.”

Zainal stressed EDB’s instrumental role in driving the UAE’s sustainability agenda by offering bespoke financing solutions that drive the energy transition and promote national food security. He cited the Bank’s Agritech Loans Program providing finance of up to Dh5 million with a long tenor of 10 years and the Solar Energy Financing Program to support businesses, especially mSMEs, to shift to cleaner sources of energy.

Zainal explained that the Bank also provides a wide range of non-financial services to drive entrepreneurship and promote SMEs’ contribution to economic development. He highlighted how EDB’s Business Lab provides a knowledge-sharing space for entrepreneurs to get expert guidance, learn how to do business better and access finance. He added that EDB provides entrepreneurs and companies at a pre-financing, pre-banking stage with financial literacy training and advisory to support them to become credit worthy.

He also noted that the EDB Business Banking App ensures seamless banking services with IBAN provided in minutes and transacting available in 48 hours. The app also integrates a digital lending feature, allowing eligible SMEs to apply for loans of up to Dh 5 million, which reflects EDB’s commitment to enhancing financial inclusion for SMEs while supporting the growth of innovation and digitization.


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