Dubai SME rolls out new measures to support entrepreneurs and start-ups

The new measures include postponement of rent payments and easier access to SME financing

Dubai skyline seen from Deyaar properties on Business Bay.
(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

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Dubai SME, the government body tasked with the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, rolled out a series of initiatives to support start-ups and entrepreneurs in Dubai to ride out the pandemic-driven economic slowdown.

The new measures include postponement of rent payments, easier access to SME financing and remote assistance on successfully navigating operational challenges, it said in a statement on Monday.

“The challenges communities and businesses worldwide are facing since Covid-19 underline the role and significance of SMEs in creating new economic opportunities, and in building resilient and sustainable enterprise,” Abdul Baset Al Janahi, chief executive of Dubai SME said.

“Dubai SME is exploring all avenues to ensure that SMEs in Dubai remain resilient and turn the present challenges into an opportunity to pursue further innovations and growth.”

As part of the support package, the Hamdan Innovation Incubator (Hi2) in Dubai SME will postpone the collection of rents for three months. Additionally, a fee reduction of up to 20 per cent is also offered on the Private Office package of Hi2.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Fund for SME, the financial arm of Dubai SME, also announced a comprehensive support package, including loans to help businesses. The fund is also allowing a three-month grace period for loan repayments and access to additional financing for SMEs.

The fund will offer zero-interest financing to Dubai SME members, struggling to meet operational expenses, including salaries and rents. It is also helping entrepreneurs with online financial consultancy on various projects.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the global economy, which is set to slide into a deep recession this year. It has forced governments to close borders, restrict peoples' movements and shut all but essential businesses. Governments and central banks have poured in more than $8 trillion (Dh29.3tn) in economic stimulus to ease the pressure on businesses and to stem job losses.

The UAE was the first country in the Middle East and North Africa to roll out fiscal and monetary support, which now totals more than Dh282 billion. The package includes zero-interest funding to encourage banks to lend, in addition to measures such as discounted utility bills and waivers of government fees for business and individuals.

Last month, Dubai SME allocated Dh20 million to a capital guarantee scheme backing peer-to-peer loans made to small and medium businesses.

The guarantee scheme was first launched by The Mohammed Bin Rashid Fund, and lending platform Beehive to facilitate funding of up to Dh780,000 for businesses that are fully owned by Emiratis.

The scheme was later extended to allow Dubai-based SMEs that are 50 per cent owned and managed by Emiratis to seek funding up to Dh420,000, which will be backed by a 50 per cent capital guarantee.