Sharjah Media City teams up with Mashreq bank to support SMEs

Mashreq will help start-ups from within the free zone get going with advice and digital bank accounts

SHARJAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 30 September 2017. STANDALONE. The Sharjah skyline lights reflect in the Al Khan Lagoon while moored vessels wait out the humid night. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: None. Section: Standalone.

Sharjah Media City (Shams) is teaming up with Mashreq Bank to support small and medium enterprises operating in the emirate’s business hub amid Covid-19 challenges.

Mashreq Bank will help companies open a digital bank account to kick-start their business as part of the new partnership, the two entities said on Monday. The Dubai-based lender will also offer advice to companies on how to grow their business and become sustainable.

“We are able to offer them a solution that can expedite their bank account opening process, especially in the light of the situation when social distancing is the new norm,” Shihab Al Hammadi, director of Shams said. “The new partnership is also in line with our development plans aimed at enhancing Shams’ comprehensive technological infrastructure that in turn would help support SMEs and entrepreneurs.”

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the global economy, which is set to slide into recession this year.

The UAE was the first country in the Middle East and North Africa to roll out fiscal and monetary support, which now totals more than Dh282 billion. Measures include zero-interest funding from the Central Bank of the UAE to encourage banks to lend, in addition to support from other organisations such as discounted utility bills and waivers of government fees for business and individuals.

Mashreq recently unveiled a package of relief measures for all of its SME customers, which includes low-balance basic accounts with no fall-below fee until June. These packages will also be available for Shams customers, the lender said.

Mashreq will also provide Shams customers with a dedicated contact, and additional support is being provided by Zoho Books, a VAT-compliant accounting software for UAE firms, to help them manage their digital financial records.

Other organisations in the UAE also stepped up efforts to support SMEs. Earlier this month, Dubai SME, the government body tasked with the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, introduced a series of initiatives to help start-ups and entrepreneurs in Dubai to ride out the pandemic-driven economic slowdown.

The new measures include postponement of rent payments, easier access to SME financing and remote assistance on successfully navigating operational challenges.

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