Promising SMEs are being given a golden thread of opportunity to climb up the business ladder An ambitious mind gives birth to the concept of an enterprise but that is not enough to guarantee its lifeline in the world of entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur must be equipped with the right kind of information, knowledge of how businesses works as well as keep a sharp eye on fluctuating market trends. With this in mind, Dubai SME, a government-based agency belonging to the Department of Economic Development (DED), has drawn up a five-year plan to help aspiring businessmen and women with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) develop and leave a mark in their respective fields. Banks currently offer funding options such as business credit facilities, loans and overdrafts and asset financing to SMEs where different banks outline criteria and requirements as per their policies but most banks require a minimum monthly balance of Dh10,000. Relationship managers in banks can advise SMEs on the best options available for them to serve as a stepping-stone in the world of business. ADCB offers services such as business loans, working capital, asset-based finance and commercial property loan, while Mashreq Bank provides services such as business accounts, merchant overdraft, small business loans, trade and working capital. Standard Chartered offers business protection, expansion and yield enhancement facilities that assist established SMEs. Citibank provides a credit shield that uses life insurance as a back-up cover finances. SMEs make up around 90 per cent of businesses in the UAE, where most face a number of obstacles that delay their financial performance. Despite SMEs contribution to 30 per cent of the country’s GDP, banks in the UAE lend SMEs a total of 3.85 per cent, the lowest compared to other countries around the world. Several initiatives are currently being undertaken to promote and assist these enterprises in the country. The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently teamed up with National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) to help SMEs in the capital city with financial assistance. The Ministry of Finance (MoF) and the International Finance Cooperation (IFC), also recently, signed an agreement to set up an institution that will help mortgage capital assets. This institution aims to develop a frame that can host finances electronically and help SME companies in bank credit application. MoF and the IFC are discussing plans to host a workshop in April this year to break down the barrier between banks and SME owners and open up communications. In early February this year, Dubai SME announced a ranking platform where a list of 100 top SME companies will be graded and named accordingly. The directory of names comes as a golden opportunity for SME businesses to catapult themselves into the market and promote their growth. The ranking, based on criteria set by Dubai SME, will also push them to think out of the box and stimulate creativity. These initiatives not only aim to help existing SME but also inspire fresh, potential business leaders, which can contribute to the UAE economy.