The Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development has enhanced its membership programme to boost entrepreneurship in the UAE.
As part of new measures, Khalifa Fund will allow members to register an unlimited number of trade licences as they seek to take advantage of various benefits offered by the Abu Dhabi government agency, including loans and other benefits.
Age-related restrictions have also been reduced for entrepreneurs. Anyone who is 21 years or older can become a member of the Khalifa Fund, it said on Friday.
Membership renewals for each business have also been extended from three times to seven times as part of new measures aimed at helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.
“Khalifa Fund has enhanced its membership offers with the objective of providing the UAE’s entrepreneurial ecosystem with increased opportunities and fewer restrictions to encourage enterprise development,” the fund said.
Khalifa Fund was set up in 2007 with a total capital of Dh300 million ($81.68m) to support the development of small and medium enterprises in the country.
The fund's capital was increased to Dh1 billion in 2008 and to Dh2bn in 2011. The fund provides loans and other services to SMEs to grow their business.
“At Khalifa Fund, we are constantly striving to identify new methods which will support the UAE’s entrepreneurial infrastructure and further enhance the ecosystem,” said chief executive Alia Al Mazrouei.
“Through our new membership programme, entrepreneurs will have the capacity to [gain access to] … innovative offers, which will encourage further enterprise development.”
Entrepreneurs holding trade licences that are more than five years old can also have access to various services offered by the fund, the fund said.
The UAE is focusing its efforts on supporting businesses as it diversifies its economy away from oil.
The Arab world's second-largest economy aims to become home to 20 unicorns, or start-ups valued at more than $1bn, by 2031 as part of a new initiative it unveiled last year.
It is also setting up a Dh1bn private equity fund for lending to SMEs operating in strategic sectors in the country.
Khalifa Fund is also launching new initiatives to support SMEs in the country. Last year, it set up a new digital platform called the Abu Dhabi SME Hub to provide support for small businesses at various stages of development.
It also teamed up with e& (formerly known as Etisalat) and Microsoft to help the emirate's SMEs in their digital transformation.