Business confidence among smaller enterprises in the UAE is running high, according to the latest survey from the global insurer Zurich.
About one third of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) believed "acquiring new customers is their biggest opportunity at the present time, indicating high levels of confidence in the strength of the local economy," Zurich said in its 2014 Global SME Survey yesterday. The survey took data from 3,800 SMEs across 19 countries, including 200 companies in the UAE.
UAE-based SMEs were found to be more positive than competitors in other countries about reaching out to new customers, the study showed.
Companies in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding the UAE, “were particularly downbeat about the potential provided by new customer segments and were found to believe that better prospects existed through the diversification of their range of products or services”, it said.
Policymakers were banking on smaller businesses to play a key role in the development of the UAE, which explained the push to help to develop local entrepreneurs. SMEs currently account for 92 per cent of the total number of companies operating in this country and 86 per cent of the workforce in the private sector, according to the Ministry of Economy.
Recent bank quarterly earnings figures revealed that local lenders have targeted SMEs for finance amid a low interest rate environment because profit margins are higher than loans given to less risky corporate clients, The National reported on October 26.
But local customers of Standard Chartered Bank have told of their anger after the London-based lender sent letters to a number of its SME clients telling them they had a month to close their accounts.
In August, Standard Chartered said it was looking to divest from the sector because of regulatory issues.
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