Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) confidence in the UAE is on the rise and the country topped the inaugural Mastercard MEA SME Confidence Index in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Mastercard SME Confidence Index found that 88 per cent of SMEs in the UAE are optimistic about the next 12 months. Of those who were surveyed, nearly two-thirds (66 per cent) are projecting revenues that will either grow or hold steady.
As many regional economies gradually enter the normalisation and growth phase, and social restrictions continue to ease, small and medium-sized businesses in the UAE have identified easier access to funding (40 per cent), acceptance of digital payments (34 per cent) and training and upskilling staff (34 per cent) as the top three drivers for growth.
This highlights the opportunities for small businesses that arise from both internal transformations as well as industry regulations and trends.
When asked about the main thing that keeps them up at night, 60 per cent of SMEs in the UAE mentioned the challenge to maintain and grow their business was their top issue. Looking at concerns over the next 12 months, 61 per cent identified the rising cost of doing business, while 38 per cent cited the need for easier access to capital and funding. Private sector partnerships (57 per cent) and government-led initiatives (53 per cent) were identified as having the biggest potential to positively impact SMEs and the wider UAE market.
Mastercard aims to provide SMEs with all the support they need to go digital and grow digitally. Creating opportunities for the over 400,000 SMEs operating in the UAE and providing employment for over 86 per cent of the UAE’s workforce, the company works closely with the government, financial organisations, and the wider business community.
Mastercard has pledged $250 million and committed to connecting 50 million micro, small and medium-sized businesses globally to the digital economy by 2025 using its technology, network, expertise and resources in support of the company’s goal of building a more sustainable and inclusive digital economy. As part of these efforts, Mastercard is focused on connecting 25 million women entrepreneurs.
For many small businesses, reducing their dependence on cash through digital payments acceptance has played a major factor in being able to get paid and maintain revenues.
As consumer trends evolve in a post-pandemic world, businesses must adapt and prepare for the future. Mastercard’s Economic Outlook 2021 estimated that 20-30 per cent of the Covid-19 related surge in e-commerce would be a permanent trend in the share of overall retail spending globally. Furthermore, recent studies from Mastercard showed that 73 per cent of UAE consumers are shopping more online than they did since the start of the pandemic and 97 per cent of UAE shoppers would consider making a purchase with an emerging payment technology over the next year.