Khalifa Fund and Amazon partner on programme to back SMEs in Abu Dhabi

Small-and-medium businesses account for 98% of all companies in the emirate, making them a key pillar of its economy

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. May 24, 2015///

Abu Dhabi skyline, view from Fairmont construction site near Marina Mall, for stock. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The  Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid Tower is the tall pointed tower on the left. Mona Al Marzooqi/ The National 

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The Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, an Abu Dhabi government agency, and Amazon teamed up on a new programme that will back small and medium-sized enterprises in the emirate.

Under a free online education programme called e-Empower, the US e-commerce company will offer a 10-week training course to thousands of SMEs in the emirate that wish to start a new online business or expand an existing platform.

It will also provide business advice for up to four months, the fund said on Wednesday.

“We are confident that, together with Amazon, we will empower entrepreneurs across a diverse range of industries to take their businesses to the next level in the e-commerce space,” said Mohammed Al Shorafa, chairman of the fund and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.

“The partnership... will bring about groundbreaking benefits for UAE entrepreneurs.”

SMEs account for 98 per cent of all companies in Abu Dhabi, making them a key pillar of the emirate’s economy. The UAE capital has announced various measures to support and develop SMEs, including economic relief packages during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government has sought to attract more high-tech start-ups and businesses to Abu Dhabi as part of its focus on artificial intelligence, agriculture technology, food security and industrialisation.

The e-Empower programme is intended to help SMEs thrive in a digital economy by offering them resources and insights needed to reach a wider customer base through Amazon.

The partnership is part of the Abu Dhabi Inspires programme, a series of initiatives aimed at turning the adversity linked to the outbreak into opportunity.

“This new partnership is a natural next step in our journey to promote innovation, further develop the UAE’s SME sector and ultimately support the growth of our national entrepreneurial culture, in line with the Abu Dhabi vision,” Mr Al Shorafa said.

Participants will be taught how to jump-start their business growth on through customised curriculums and personalised recommendations.

Entrepreneurs will also have access to Amazon's selling partner benefits such as easy listing tools, payment processing and promotional features to help them become more visible to customers, he said.

There has been a change in UAE consumer habits as people spending more time at home increasingly turn to online shopping, hastening the growth of e-commerce in the region.

The Department of Economic Development issues e-commerce licences to encourage entrepreneurs to adopt online platforms for existing projects and businesses.

Amazon said its overall partnership with small businesses is across a range of activities that help companies to sell products online, deliver goods, publish books and create new apps or other technology businesses using Amazon’s cloud services.

More than half of everything sold through Amazon comes from third-party sellers, most of which are SMEs, it said.

The US company said it plans to invest more than $18 billion (Dh66.1bn) this year in logistics, tools, services, programmes and on the recruitment of staff to develop the growth of its SME sellers.

“We are confident that our efforts with the Khalifa Fund will see us welcome more Abu Dhabi entrepreneurs to, as they choose to grow their businesses with us,” said Ronaldo Mouchawar, vice president of Amazon Middle East and North Africa.

On Tuesday, the Dubai government and e-commerce platform Noon said they had teamed up on a new programme to back Emirati e-commerce businesses as part of efforts to grow the local digital economy.

The programme will connect start-ups that have a DED Trader licence with customers across the region through the Mahali online store on