Emirates NBD revealed on Monday the criteria for small and medium enterprises to participate in the first phase of the Dh500 million 'Dubai International Growth Initiative' aimed at accelerating the global expansion of high-potential SMEs.

The groundbreaking initiative was introduced in January by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, to accelerate the global expansion of Dubai-founded SMEs who contribute roughly 40 per cent of Dubai’s GDP, the emirate’s largest bank by assets said in a statement.

According to the Ministry of Economy,, the SME sector accounts for more than 94 per cent of all companies in the country. They employ more than 86 per cent of the private sector’s workforce. In Dubai alone, SMEs account for nearly 95 per cent of all businesses, employing 42 per cent of the workforce.

The UAE government is taking an active role in creating initiatives and programs to assist with funding sources for SMEs. Some of the other initiatives are Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development and Khalifa Fund.

“The 'Dubai International Growth Initiative' is aligned with the goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 to double the size of the emirate's GDP and strengthen Dubai’s position as a leading global business hub while supporting the important role the private sector plays in nurturing the growth of the emirate’s economy,” it said.

The first phase of the initiative is open to Dubai-founded SMEs in select sectors including food and beverage (F&B), fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), retail, including parts and machinery distribution, e-commerce, services and manufacturing. Additional sectors will be added in subsequent phases. Focusing on Dubai's key strategic sectors, the initiative ensures that approved participants will gain access to financing for their global expansion.

Through the support of Emirates NBD, the initiative will facilitate up to Dh15 million in financing to eligible businesses for up to seven years, allowing them to manage cashflow effectively during their global expansion phase. The cost of financing will be based on the Emirates’ Interbank Offered Rate (EIBOR), with no additional margin.

A joint steering committee, comprising representatives from the Government of Dubai and Emirates NBD, will be responsible for guiding the initiative. The committee will be responsible for selecting eligible SMEs, overseeing the implementation of the initiative and ensuring its success in meeting the emirate's strategic objectives.

To participate in the initiative, SMEs must meet a set of eligibility criteria that align with the strategic vision of the Government of Dubai.

To be eligible, SMEs are required to be founded and operational in Dubai, with a proven successful business model.

They have to operate within the sectors of F&B, FMCG, retail, including parts and machinery distribution, e-commerce, services and manufacturing. They are required to use the financing to establish global business expansion of their current line of business and effectively manage the repayments based on cashflows from their current operations.

SMEs are required to present a comprehensive business plan outlining their strategy for global growth.

Upon fulfilling the initial eligibility criteria, a dedicated specialist will conduct a comprehensive review of the applicants’ business followed by the joint steering committee’s review for inclusion in the initiative. Qualified applicants will work closely with Emirates NBD to receive tailored financial solutions to address their unique growth needs.

All Dubai-founded SMEs, irrespective of the nationality of the owner, can benefit from the 'Dubai International Growth Initiative', which seeks to empower SMEs to expand internationally.

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