Khalifa Fund looks to make Abu Dhabi a haven for SMEs

Last year the fund launched the Ziraai programme to support the agricultural sector by improving training and marketing services and giving farmers interest-free loans of up to Dh1 million.

Abu Dhabi will position itself as an innovation hub for small and medium-sized businesses from around the region, the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development said ahead of its annual forum on Tuesday in the capital next week.

Amid growing concern for the availability of funding for SMEs, more than 500 people from companies and organisations including Virgin United Mentors, Google and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are expected to gather on Yas Island for the 10th annual meeting of the International Network for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (INSME). Its theme is Investing In Innovation – Building a Sustainable Knowledge-based Economy.

An exhibition will also showcase some of the most innovative players of the UAE.

Ibrahim Ahmed Al Mansouri, the chief operations officer at the Khalifa Fund, said: “We are pleased to be hosting this annual event, as it will reinforce the position of Abu Dhabi and the UAE in general on the global investment map and promote the emirate as an environment that encourages innovation in entrepreneurship.

“Since 2007, the Khalifa Fund has been consistently enriching entrepreneurship and innovation for a wide group of Emirates. Its partnership with INSME furthers our aim to provide SMEs with outstanding training and networking opportunities to help them grow.”

The Khalifa Fund aims to help local enterprises and provide financial services to Emirati entrepreneurs and SMEs. Last year the fund launched the Ziraai programme to support the agricultural sector by improving training and marketing services and giving farmers interest-free loans of up to Dh1 million.

A new SME draft law approved in June is set to be passed to promote the sector.

Last week, the UAE Central Bank governor warned that the Basel III banking rules could curb the growth of SMEs worldwide.

“Job creation in emerging economies really depends on finding a way outside Basel III restrictions on SME financing, which will not contribute to job creation and will probably contribute to creating problems in many emerging and developing economies,” said Sultan Al Suwaidi.

business@thenational.ae

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Published: March 13, 2014 04:00 AM

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