SMEs need more partnerships with private and public entities - GulfToday

SMEs need more partnerships with private and public entities


Ver, Raganit and other dignitaries at the forum.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

Establishing relations with private and public business institutions thrust the development of small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs). Abu Dhabi Chamber (ADCCI) chief executive officer Ahmed Khalifa Al Qubaisi enumerated the benefits in a recent interview, following the November 9 Philippine Business Council-Abu Dhabi and the Western Region (PBCAUHWR) “Biz Talk 2023 - Private Equity, Investment & Financial Management Forum.”

The non-profit organisation (NPO) chairman Prof. Gau Raganit emphasised in his welcome speech that the forum was “with the vision of supporting SMEs and fostering economic growth,” realised only by way of private-public networking and partnerships. He pointed out that the shared experiences and insights by the transnational panel of government and private experts, “are valuable tools and strategies that empower all SMEs to make well-informed decisions, access funding facilities, and navigate the intricacies of financial management.”

Raganit acknowledged the huge assistance of the UAE leadership, ADCCI, Department of Economic Development, Philippine Embassy-Abu Dhabi (AUHPE) and the Abu Dhabi Chapters of the Pakistan Business Council, Irish Business Council, American Chamber, and Canadian Business Council in the scale-up of Filipino entrepreneurship across the country and even in the Philippines.

Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Alfonso Ferdinand Ver lauded the efforts of the 20-year-old NPO in stirring the presence of the Filipino entrepreneurs in various countries. He said the forum was timely since Philippine Economic Zone Authority director general Tereso Panga was in the capital for the expansion of commercial relations through private-public sector partnerships.

Ver expressed gladness over the 100 per cent foreign ownership of SMEs in the UAE: “This has unleashed the spirit of entrepreneurialism. The resurgence of the (PBCAUHWR) and your partnership with the ADCCI, expatriate and local business councils, (AUHPE), and other business individuals have been the spokes that engender economic activities here and back home.”

In the consequent interview, Al Qubaisi noted that the “highest concentrations” of SMEs in Abu Dhabi are in real estate, financial services, information communications technology, and wholesale and retail trade.

Ahmed-Khalifa-Al-Qubaisi--750x450Ahmed Khalifa Al Qubaisi.

Manufacturing is one new market. For this, are the National Industrial Strategy “Operation 300bn” which aims to increase the industrial sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product from Dhs133 to Dhs300 billion by 2031; the “Make It In The Emirates” to encourage local and international investors, innovators, and developers to benefit from the facilities and incentives offered by the country’s industrial sector; and the Abu Dhabi Industrial Strategy to equip industrial SMEs with the knowledge, methodologies, and tools in the quest to achieve industrial aspirations.

“A five-year programme was devised to transform 30 per cent of SMES existing manufacturers in Abu Dhabi to smart manufacturing SMEs,” Al Qubaisi continued.

SMEs could avail of over 17 ADCCI offers. Among these are the “series of workshops for the private sector to raise awareness on new laws and legislations that impact their operations. Various mechanisms exist to incentive SMEs scale-up, motivational events such as the pivotal Sheikh Khalifa Excellence Awards. The Chamber GPT, the first Abu Dhabi government ‘24/7’ digital bot to answer queries raised by the private sector was launched in October this year. It incorporates machine learning to weave answers to questions raised by SMEs. Members also have the access to the Abu Dhabi Private Sector Commercial Directory.”

The ADCCI support to the current 23 active expatriate business councils stems from 2005 laws that were updated in 2018.

Al Qubaisi said: “These act as accelerators, incubators, and networkers for the private sector, aiming to bridge supply and demand of businesses in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the UAE at large and the respective countries, thereby bolstering bilateral trade and investment efforts.”

These and SMEs members of the chamber “have access to a pool of business intelligence educational products such as seminars to support SMEs, and networking opportunities for bankable investments such as those presented in the Annual Investment Meeting,” he added.

Apart from the ADCCI provision of “liaisons” with public and private entities like the Abu Dhabi Department of Economy, Emirates Development Bank, and other relevant individuals, entrepreneurs, start-ups and businessmen who link up directly to one of the oldest chambers in the Gulf, set up in 1971 by the late Founding Father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, or via their expatriate business councils, have chances of topping up their strength and sense of empowerment for they “can also get access to the advocacy efforts of the chamber” through its Economic Collaboration Committee (ECC) private sector working groups (WGs).

Al Qubaisi explained: “Each of these WGs has representatives from the private sector’s specific industry as well as representatives from pertinent government entities. Some of these WGs focus on trade, real estate, education, construction, and industry. Their mandate is to deliberate on the legislative, procedural and economic/financial challenges and opportunities within their sectors in order to come up with a consolidated list of recommendations to be raised to the ECC and subsequently to the Abu Dhabi Executive Office.”

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