Abu Dhabi-based Khalifa Fund will continue to inject funding into 100 new projects this year in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and growth sectors such as manufacturing and tourism in the emirate.
Speaking to Emirates Business, Dr Halah El Sokari, Director of Strategy and Planning for the Khalifa Fund, said: "Despite the financial crisis and business slowdowns in other places in the region and the world, nothing has changed in our five-year strategic plan.
"We are continuing to inject funding into a 100 new SME projects this year and plan to go on doing so every year over the next five years. We will also be introducing an equity participation model in the form of a venture capital fund. We would like to promote enterprises in the priority sectors outlined in the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, that are actively managed and operated by UAE nationals."
El Sokari said the fund was planning ahead to identify future opportunities for SMEs, particularly those arising as a result of the major industrial push and growth that the emirate is planning.
The Khalifa Fund has three programmes. The first – Khutwa – means 'first step' in Arabic – offers financing of up to Dh250,000 for UAE nationals in remote areas or who work from their homes.
The second is called Bedaya – means 'beginning' in Arabic – offers a minimum of Dh250,000 and a maximum of Dh3 million to start SMEs.
The third, Zeyada – meaning 'additional' in Arabic – offers funding for businesses which have already been set up but are in the early stages, and have goals to expand.
The funding programmes have been set up to address the gaps in the market when it comes to financing the inception and early stages of a business. "We are not here to take over the role of the banks or financial institutions, though," El Sokari said.
The Fund is open for UAE nationals who are in the early stages in their business. However, in response to a question by Emirates Business on future possibilities for expatriates and international companies to engage themselves in its programmes, El Sokari said: "When it comes to capital intensive knowledge-based industries with the potential for technology transfer that would benefit the economy of Abu Dhabi and the UAE, consideration would be made for joint-venture agreements as long these are aligned with the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030."
The current international financial challenges have "not directly impacted the projects of the Khalifa Fund", Al Sokari said. "However, there is now more emphasis on the quality and competitiveness of the projects being supported."
El Sokari said the Fund was planning to introduce business incubators to further support innovative ideas in tandem with providing all the support services needed to ensure increased chances of success for the start up enterprises.