Emirates Development Bank, the state-owned lender focused on financing companies in key industrial sectors, has launched a new lending feature that allows businesses to apply for loans of up to Dh5 million ($1.36m) and receive approval feedback within five days.
Start-ups and small and medium enterprises can apply for quick loans directly through the bank's digital banking app, an EDB statement on Monday said.
The service, launched in partnership with peer-to-peer lending platform Beehive, is aimed at enhancing access to finance for SMEs and further simplifying the conducting of business in the country.
“EDB fills a critical gap in the market by providing financing solutions to all companies with a proven potential to contribute to the sustainable development of the UAE,” said Ahmed Al Naqbi, EDB chief executive.
“It is clear that swift access to finance is one of the biggest challenges that SMEs and start-ups face.”
SMEs are the backbone of the UAE economy, comprising 98 per cent of the companies operating in the country. The development of the sector and accelerating the growth of the start-up ecosystem are among the main priorities of government as it chalks out development strategy for the next 50 years.
EDB, which is at the heart of government’s push to improve start-ups' and small businesses’ access to financing, has already launched several initiatives as part of its push to achieve Dh30 billion in total funding before the end of 2025.
The lender aims to boost its funding to Dh5bn by the end of this year from about Dh2bn it had lent up to June. It plans to surpass the Dh5bn financing level next year and in 2024, Mr Al Naqbi told The National in June.
EDB said the new lending service would be available for UAE-based SMEs and start-ups operating in one of five priority sectors — manufacturing, health care, food security, advanced technology and infrastructure — for up to 60 months.
It plans to allocate Dh7bn in financing to the manufacturing sector in the next five years. The advanced technology sector is expected to receive Dh5bn in funding, infrastructure Dh8bn, health care Dh2.5bn and the agricultural technology and food security sector companies are projected to receive another Dh2.5bn.
“We are continuously looking to collaborate with FinTech companies and financial partners to ease the financing process for SMEs and allow for quick and easy access to the bank’s financial services,” Mr Al Naqbi said.
Abu Dhabi-based EDB, which also funds large corporate clients, has provided about Dh350m financing through its credit guarantee programme, which was rolled out in partnership with nine commercial banks.
The 10th financial institution will soon be added to the list to help SMEs access finance and full banking services, Mr Al Naqbi said in June.
In addition to its direct and indirect financing, EDB’s digital platform allows SMEs and start-ups to open an account and reserve an Iban number in a matter of hours to access banking services.
EDB, founded in 2011 through the merger of Emirates Industrial Bank and the Real Estate Bank, aims to generate 25,000 jobs in the next five years.
The lender’s revamped strategy has helped in adding Dh1.91bn to the national economy and supported the growth of more than 1,350 SMEs until the end of the first quarter of this year, Mr Al Naqbi said in June.