HARNESSING SMALL & MEDIUM BUSINESSES FOR ACCELERATED GROWTH
SME World 2014, celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovative minds, showcased the best of SMEs, hi-tech companies and quality service providers in the region, apart from offering matchless networking and investment opportunities. The event, which took place on the 26th and 27th March, 2014 at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel at Dubai, was akin to a lodestone which attracted luminaries like entrepreneurs, C-level executives, financial institutions, trading houses, venture funds and angel investors, not to mention the world media.
It was to this audience of high profile participants that the summit strove to appeal to, as the one true platform for SMEs from around the globe to showcase their potential at the summit, in the presence of such a participant profile. In retrospect, the event did prove to be a cornerstone-event for entrepreneurs in and around the Middle Eastern and North African region. The two-day high profile event boasted of hosting one of the largest gathering of innovative minds in the region.
On the morning of 26th March, the two-day SME World 2014 opened its doors to investors, businesses and the general public, with the theme ‘Enabling Global Ambitions.’ The conference was held under the aegis of Dubai SME and Dubai Economic Council (DEC), and organized by the SPI Group, well known in the UAE for their role in designing, developing and organizing innovative events and content platforms for businesses in the region. SME World validates UAE’s commitment to encourage entrepreneurship and provide a strong supporting ecosystem for small and medium businesses and enterprises, by showcasing the spirit of entrepreneurship in the UAE and the wider gulf region. In addition to Panel Discussions with experts and industry leaders, the event also hosted several SME Workshops. More than a 100 top SMEs from across the region participated, presenting their products and services, sharing their success stories and their growth plans with industry representatives, governments, investors and the general public.
Dubai SME, one of the key organisers, said that it is currently in the process of mapping the universe of angel investors in the UAE to help connect these investors with viable startups that show long term growth potential. This is being embarked upon with a view “to promote equity financing and angel investing as a complementary and alternative mode of funding for startups and SMEs in various stages of growth in the UAE,” according to Alexandar Williams, Director of Strategy and Policy, Dubai SME, who was speaking about alternatives for SME financing during the second day of Summit, during a panel discussion on “Access to finance for SMEs in the UAE: opportunities and challenges.” which was moderated by Dr. Ibrahim Elbadawi, Director, Macroeconomics and Forecasting, Dubai Economic Council. The discussion examined the various modes of SME financing in the UAE, their efficacy and their role in growing the sector which accounts for a very large percent of all businesses in the UAE. Other panelists included Vikas Thapar, CEO, SME Business at Emirates NBD, Dr. Mohamed Trabelsi, Senior Economist at Dubai Economic Council, Richard Morrison, Regional Head of Corporate Direct and Intermediaries at AXA Insurance, Chris Thomas, CEO of Eureeca, Amir Ahmed, Senior Associate at Pinsent Masons and Jean Marc Paufique, COO of Zawya.