The Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development said it might start an incubator programme to help Emirati innovators get the support they need to help them develop their ideas.
“The fund is currently working on developing a vision for those incubators and the mechanism of action, the services and facilities to be provided by the beneficiaries’ sectors including finance,” said Hussain Al Nowais, chairman of the fund, which supports small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across the UAE.
It is discussing the concept with a number of potential partners including from the education and investment sectors, Mr Al Nowais said.
The fund is developing digital services to allow entrepreneurs to submit their projects for consideration by the fund electronically. By next year, it plans to launch a mobile platform from which the fund’s services can be accessed, Mr Al Nowais said.
Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, outlined incentives to be offered to Emirati owners of SMEs as well as funding provisions and mandatory support from federal ministries and government related entities as part of Federal Law No 2, which he approved last year.
Currently the proportion of loans to SMEs to overall bank lending is only about 3 per cent, and the Central Bank is set to issue guidelines designed to increase bank lending to the sector.
The UAE has been striving to bolster support for SMEs, which represent almost 92 per cent of the total number of companies and provide more than 86 per cent of jobs in the private sector.
One of the key goals of Sheikh Khalifa’s legislation was to help raise the contribution of SMEs to the country’s economic output. Sultan Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, has said that he expects the contribution of SMEs to economic output to rise to 70 per cent by 2020 from about 60 per cent at present.
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