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Dubai SME expands role in driving SME growth with over AED233 million worth of support in


The Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for Small and Medium Enterprises Development (Dubai SME), a subsidiary of the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), expanded its role as a key driver of the emirate’s small and medium enterprise (SME) sector’s growth, with the total value of its incentives and services reaching AED233.4 million in 2023.

Dubai SME achieved significant milestones in 2023, reflecting its commitment to contributing to the goals of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, with the aim of doubling Dubai’s economy by 2033 and consolidating its position among the world’s top three cities for business and tourism.

According to Dubai SME’s annual report, the organisation facilitated the establishment of 2,937 new businesses in 2023 and provided vital support and guidance services to 1,186 Emirati entrepreneurs. The report also revealed that the Mohammed Bin Rashid Fund for SME, a key initiative of Dubai SME, provided AED 11.8 million worth of funding to 16 projects, highlighting its pivotal role in supporting entrepreneurial initiatives. Furthermore, 46 Emirati entrepreneurs with start-ups in the technology sector received support from the Business Incubation Department services at Hamdan Innovation Incubator (HI2). Technology projects play a key role in fostering innovation, boosting productivity and contributing to competitiveness, economic growth and the creation of new job opportunities. Moreover, around 100 businesses benefited from Dubai SME’s entrepreneurship promotion services in 2023.

His Excellency Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME, said: “Guided by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Dubai SME strives to support entrepreneurship and the development of small and medium enterprises, which are the backbone of the emirate’s economy. Following the launch of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33, 2023 marked an exceptional year for Dubai SME, with the organisation continuing to help accelerate the goal of positioning the emirate as the most competitive environment for entrepreneurial ideas and start-ups. As revealed in our 2023 annual report, we are committed to providing financial and technical support to Emirati entrepreneurs and new businesses. As we look forward to 2024 and beyond, we are determined to identify and leverage investment opportunities to further drive growth in the SME sector.”
Key achievements from 2002 to 2023

Since its inception in 2002, Dubai SME has supported 16,443 national companies, while 50,131 entrepreneurs have benefited from its services. By 2023, the cumulative value of incentives and services provided to Emirati entrepreneurs and national companies reached AED1.5 billion.

Stand-out statistics from 2002 to 2023 also included 46,209 entrepreneur trainees benefiting from Dubai SME’s training services and diploma programmes. A total of 118 projects received financial support worth AED103.14 million from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Fund for SME while 3,400 businesses benefited from its entrepreneurship promotion services.

Major developments and initiatives in 2023
In June 2023, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, approved the adoption of the future model of Dubai SME. Through this strategic model, which is aligned with the D33 Agenda, Dubai aims to support the establishment of 27,000 new Emirati businesses and provide growth support to 8,000 Emirati entrepreneurs, enabling them to create 86,000 new job opportunities and contributing approximately AED9 billion to the emirate’s GDP. This aligns with the ambitious targets set by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to double Dubai SME’s accomplishments of the past 20 years – from 13,000 to 27,000 new businesses.

Business Incubator Network
Dubai SME adopts a diverse range of initiatives and programmes, spanning from identifying talented entrepreneurs and nurturing business ideas to providing ongoing support for businesses throughout their growth and expansion journey. The certified incubator network in Dubai, consisting of 17 accredited incubators, welcomes all innovative ideas for testing and provides the necessary resources for their development, transforming these concepts into profitable business ventures. Notably, six of these incubators operate within educational institutions, including universities and schools. This strategy aligns with the sixth pillar of Dubai’s Fifty-Year Charter, which emphasises the transformation of local and private universities into economic and creative free zones, encouraging student innovation and entrepreneurship through university-based incubator programmes. By integrating business incubators within universities, Dubai SME has introduced a transformative initiative aimed at enhancing infrastructure within educational institutions. This initiative seeks to cultivate the potential of young talents, stimulate their creativity and innovation and instill an entrepreneurial mindset from an early age. By providing essential support at the inception of their ventures, these programmes will empower students to establish their own companies and embark on successful entrepreneurial journeys.

Focus on Hatta
To enable youth in the eastern region to start projects and turn their ideas into reality, Dubai SME established a new business facilitation centre, Tasheel, at the Hatta Community Centre to support young entrepreneurs and SME owners, who can utilise smart services to issue tax-free business licences, including an Intelaq Licence via the Invest in Dubai platform. The centre also offers multi-use halls and a meeting room that serves as a hub for entrepreneurs.

Dubai SME also organised workshops and certified professional diplomas in entrepreneurship for the commercial and agricultural sectors, due to their economic importance in the Hatta region. More than 100 Emirati participants managing more than 50 projects attended the workshops. With a focus on training young potential entrepreneurs in Hatta, Dubai SME organises courses and specialised programmes, providing valuable advice, guidance and information. This included organising 19 workshops attended by more than 400 participants, as well as two specialised programmes and numerous training courses targeting entrepreneurs, focusing on creative thinking in entrepreneurship, innovation-based management and e-commerce. The aim is to develop the skills of trainees and refine their skills.

Readiness of local companies
In Q4 2023, Dubai SME launched the Supply Chain Readiness Programme in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS). The programme, designed to empower Emirati SME suppliers according to global supply chain standards, conducted focus groups for a total of 41 SMEs to capture feedback from Emirati SME suppliers. Additionally, Dubai SME conducted two buyers’ roundtable discussions with 32 procurement leaders and experts from 25 public and private entities to gather valuable insights. Based on the outcomes and recommendations, Dubai SME is set to launch new projects to integrate SMEs into local supply chains. These projects will include:

• Supply Chain Capacity Building Programme to enhance SME supply chain capabilities and competitiveness through advisory services and training workshops to foster a thorough understanding of market dynamics, customer behaviour and industry trends.

• Digital Suppliers Hub to establish a centralised platform for profiling and rating members, allowing reviews from buyers, while promoting knowledge-sharing and innovation among SMEs.

Other notable projects
Other major Dubai SME initiatives in 2023 included India Accelerator launching iAccel Gulf Business Incubator LLC in Dubai and The Co-Kitchen being accredited as the first kitchen incubator under the umbrella of the Dubai Business Incubator Network (DBIN). In cooperation with the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, Dubai SME also showcased the city’s F&B entrepreneurial ecosystem at the 28th edition of Gulfood. Dubai SME was represented at the event, the largest of its kind in the world, by 10 companies.

Promoting businesses of Dubai SME members

Gulfood 2024
Dubai SME represented the food and beverage entrepreneurial ecosystem at Gulfood, the world’s largest food exhibition, by showcasing 10 Emirati businesses. This presence underscores Dubai SME’s longstanding participation at Gulfood, spanning more than a decade during which it has supported more than 120 of its members during this leading annual exhibition.

Global Village
Dubai SME strengthened its collaboration with Global Village, the region’s leading family destination for culture, shopping and entertainment, through a partnership to support Emiratis during the 28th edition of Global Village, which runs until April 2024.

Since 2005, Dubai SME has continued to support entrepreneurs through its ongoing participation at Global Village, with more than 730 beneficiary projects to date. Moreover, Dubai SME seeks to empower local product suppliers and enhance their presence in various local and international forums. Global Village is one of the most significant platforms for innovative and ambitious entrepreneurs seeking to compete and sustain their business in the future.

Expand North Star 2023
Dubai SME was a significant participant in Expand North Star 2023, the ultimate super connector event for global startups and investors. At its 2023 edition, it forged strategic ties with government stakeholders, investors, and accelerators.

The Dubai SME pavilion at the event proudly showcased the best UAE start-ups and incubators from its extensive network, empowering them with the exposure and tools they need to excel in Dubai’s competitive business sector.



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Dubai SME expands role in driving SME growth with over AED233 million worth of support in