Emirates Development Bank, the state-owned lender focused on financing the UAE's priority sectors, contributed more than Dh3.5 billion ($953 million) to the country’s gross domestic product in 2022 and supported the creation of more than 12,000 industrial jobs.
By 2026, the target is for the bank to provide Dh30 billion in support to 13,500 companies, which, in turn, will contribute Dh10 billion to the country's economic output, EDB said on Wednesday in its 2022 annual report to Nasdaq Dubai.
“EDB’s flexible financing programmes to support companies of all sizes have played a critical role in catalysing the sustainable growth and diversification of the UAE’s economy, and helped accelerate advanced technology adoption across industries,” said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, and EDB chairman.
“The bank’s growing financing activities, product suite, and advisory capabilities for mSMEs [micro, small and medium enterprises] and large corporates have enabled it to achieve record levels of approved loans, GDP contribution and job creation in the sectors it supports.”
Last year, EDB approved Dh6.1 billion in loans, of which Dh1.8 billion was approved for SMEs. The funding approved for large corporates rose to Dh4.3 billion.
The bank aims to approve loans worth Dh6 billion or more this year, to match its funding last year, chief executive Ahmed Al Naqbi told The National in March.
EDB, which became operational in 2015, is a key financial engine for the economic development and industrial advancement of the UAE.
The bank provides direct and indirect financing to UAE-domiciled businesses or projects across its five priority sectors – manufacturing, infrastructure, advanced technology, food security and health care.
It has been taking steps towards attaining the goals of the UAE’s industrial strategy, which aims to boost the sector’s contribution to GDP to Dh300 billion by 2031.
EDB launched its strategy to accelerate the UAE’s industrial development, support SMEs and foster innovation and entrepreneurship two years ago.
Last month, the bank introduced an agriculture technology loans programme, with plans to allocate Dh100 million in financing support for the country's food security sector.
The initiative is aimed at boosting the national agriculture sector in line with the UAE's plans to become a global leader in agricultural innovation, EDB said at the time.
In August last year, EDB launched a lending feature that allows businesses to apply for loans of up to Dh5 million and receive approval feedback within five days.
Start-ups and SMEs can apply for quick loans directly through the bank's digital banking app.
“Since the launch of the EDB business banking app, 2,094 new customers opened accounts and over Dh100 million in loans were applied for through the digital app … reflecting the willingness of our customers to adopt technology-enabled banking practices,” Mr Al Naqbi said on Wednesday.
EDB’s asset portfolio rose to Dh13.7 billion in 2022, from Dh9.1 billion in 2020, it said.
Going forward, EDB plans to focus on digitalisation and strengthen its platform for financial technology providers, giving mSME customers access to financing and helping them to adopt FinTech solutions, it said in its annual report.
The bank plans to launch a range of online and app-provided self-service channels this year, the report said.
This will eliminate the need for customers to visit a branch for transactions such as fund drawdowns, account statements, liability letter requests and balance statements.
Digital access will cover direct as well as indirect finance, it said.
EDB’s mSME division also plans to increase its staff by about 50 per cent this year across its customer-facing and back-end operational and IT roles, the lender said.
“We are looking to enhance our wholesale banking capabilities including the development of specialised sector focused products [such as AgriTech], focus on the build-up of a syndication and distribution desk and cash management function, as well as enhancing our partnerships to be at forefront of industry-related finance,” Mr Al Naqbi said.
Furthermore, as the UAE gears up to host the Cop28 climate conference in November, EDB will play a key role in helping the country to achieve its climate action agenda, said Dr Al Jaber.
“At EDB, we will play our part through the financing of sustainable and renewable energy projects and technologies in line with national development priorities and initiatives,” he said.