“Supporting SMEs is in our DNA,” declared Krysta Fox, executive director of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) Free Zone.
Established in 2002, the DMCC registered its first companies in 2003. By the end of that year, it had about 20 companies, primarily in the jewellery sector. “Fast forward 14 years to 2016, and today we’re a thriving business community of over 12,700 companies,” said Fox.
Almost 900 different industry sectors are covered in the free zone. These include services, trading and light industrial activities.
Over 75 percent of DMCC companies are SMEs, according to Fox. “That’s happened because we spend a lot of time talking to our members, listening to what they have to say and really responding to that.”
The ability to provide SMEs with a generous range of flexible services is one of the DMCC’s greatest advantages, she said. “Whether that flexibility is needed because the business is expanding into new areas … or whether that’s the company moving from being a one-person band in a flexi office right through to hundreds of people in a customised full floor in a beautiful business tower, the DMCC Free Zone has got everything in that broad spectrum available to SMEs.”
According to Fox, one of the main areas SMEs want help in is networking, a key focus of the DMCC. “It’s really important to us that we get them connected, so that they can do business with each other,” she noted.
“We do an enormous amount in that area, whether it be the DMCC Knowledge Series, whether it be clubs, conferences and forums, or whether it be our online digital business directory that connects them with each other.”
The DMCC Knowledge Series invites industry experts to run lectures and seminars on a diverse range of topics, from investments and finance to compliance and business excellence. The events aim to inform DMCC members of latest market trends, providing operational and strategic advice.
In 2015, the DMCC organised almost 40 events, of which 75 percent were free. Over 7,500 members participated. Recent and upcoming events include a seminar entitled “Energy Sector: Projects & Opportunities” and a Global Commodity Outlook Conference.
“I think the greatest gift we can give is knowledge. The DMCC Knowledge Series puts in front of our entire business community experts from all manner of fields who present their knowledge and expertise through legal matters, strategic, marketing, industry-specific, real estate, energy,” said Fox.
Another key requirement of SMEs is excellent customer service, she remarked. “We have a fantastic DMCC member portal, where all of our companies can do just about everything online, and that means that rather than them spending their time on administration, they spend their time making their business successful.”
Individuals looking to establish a company approach the DMCC in various ways, said Fox. “They might give us a call, they might drop in and see us or they might get started straightaway on our website through our online application form. All of those channels might take them through onto a very digital experience.”
But it’s not just about technology, she stressed. “What we also do is assign an executive to help someone in that process of establishing a company. So when they want to talk to a real live person, they have the ability to do that.”
The DMCC Free Zone positions itself as a marketplace for precious commodities including diamonds and gold, energy-related sectors, steel and base metals, and soft agricultural commodities such as tea and cotton. In addition to companies within these sectors, the DMCC also aims to attract businesses from a range of support industries such as logistics, finance, consulting and insurance.
“With seven new companies setting up a business every working day, DMCC is home to many of the world’s best-known corporations including; Alcatel Lucent Middle East and North Africa, American Express, Carrera Y Carrera, Colgate-Palmolive, Dyson, Duracell, Eurofin, John West Foods, Lukoil, LVMH, Nutricia Danone, Oddfjell, Rio Tinto – Dimexon and TAG Worldwide,” the organisation said in a recent press release.
There are over 35 free zones operating in the UAE, with over 20 in Dubai. DMCC Free Zone companies benefit from 0 percent corporate and personal tax for 50 years, the option of 100-percent foreign ownership, and assistance with sponsorship of employees and other government-related services.