The UAE Banks Federation recently organised a webinar on growth opportunities and innovation of banking solutions for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) under the theme "Changing Landscape of SME Banking in the UAE", as part of its efforts to support this important sector and enhance its role in the economic and social development in the UAE.

The webinar discussed ways to support the small and medium enterprise sectors by facilitating their access to banking services and providing them with the necessary funding enabling them to play an important role in driving various economic sectors and creating more jobs.

The UAE Banks Federation underscored the importance of providing appropriate banking and financing solutions to SMEs, especially in the past period, which was marked by challenges due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the SME sector.

The workshop also discussed opportunities to improve the banking system and develop innovative banking and financial solutions that meet the needs of SMEs and help them improve their banking, especially in the context of digital transformation in the banking sector and the economy in general.

The webinar was attended by several officials, experts, banking and financial sector professionals and government agencies involved in supporting the sector, Marwan Al Suwaidi, Director of Finance, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development; Pradeep Rana, Group Chief Risk Officer, FAB; and Imad Gharazeddine, Co-founder and CEO of Mamo.

Ahmed Al Naqbi, CEO of Emirates Development Bank, gave a presentation on government initiatives to support the sector, while renowned media personality Richard Dean moderated the following panel discussion on ways to facilitate SMEs’ access to financial and banking services.

Jamal Saleh, Director-General of the UAE Banks Federation, said, “SMEs represent a vital sector and a key driver of many economies around the world. In the UAE, they account for more than 90 percent of all businesses, contribute more than 60 percent of the GDP and provide jobs for around 85 percent of all private sector employees.

"There are many pioneering initiatives by the government to encourage the growth of these enterprises, such as the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development, as they contribute to accelerating and deepening the strategy of economic diversification and create more employment opportunities in line with the UAE's objectives to focus on the knowledge economy and innovation.”

Closing the webinar, Dhiraj Kunwar, Managing Director of Business Banking, RAKBANK, and Chairman of the SME Committee of UAE Banks Federation, delivered a speech summarising the key outcomes and recommendations, emphasising the Federation's determination to continue supporting the sector.