Mawarid-government tie-up to boost SMEs

Ahmad Al Midfa, right, with Mohammed Ali Al Neaimi in Sharjah yesterday. (CHANDRA BALAN)

Mawarid Finance is partnering with the UAE Government to set up a federal body that will oversee efforts to promote small and medium enterprises (SME) in the country, said the head of the Islamic financing company .

Mohammed Ali Al Neaimi, CEO of Mawarid Finance, told Emirates Business that SMEs already constitute 85 per cent of the total number of companies registered in the country and there was a need for a central body to unify efforts for giving a further push to the sector nation-wide.

He was speaking after signing a co-operation agreement with Ruwad, the SME-support arm of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), and said Mawarid was supporting this initiative and working hand in hand with the government to make it successful.

Mawarid has signed agreements with the Khalifa Fund and the Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders, and an agreement to finance businesses via the Sharjah Business Women Council.

"We are looking to sign similar agreements in Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain," said Al Neaimi. He added that his company has organised discussion forums in Abu Dhabi in association with the Khalifa Fund, and in Dubai with the Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders. Similar forums were also held in Ras Al Khaimah with the Saud bin Saqr Programme, and in Ajman with the Businesswomen Council, with representatives of all departments concerned with SMEs as well as small and medium entrepreneurs present.

"We are keen to ease all difficulties faced by SMEs and to open new horizons for them to boost the UAE economy by organising such events throughout the country. For this purpose we have started a campaign called 'Falak Tayyeb', with the largescale involvement of the government and private organisations," said Al Neaimi.

He added that such events help SMEs attain their goals and objectives by meeting liabilities and credit risks. The campaign also addresses the media's role in providing support to these enterprises, as well as the legal aspects relevant to SMEs.

When asked how his company would benefit from such an initiative, he said: "While other financers focuses on investing in big projects, we have opted to go in the opposite direction and explore an untapped segment in the form of SMEs, which forms about 85 per cent of the business sector. Apart from helping and encouraging creative business idea generators to set up their companies, we are doing excellent business ourselves."

Mawarid invested Dh600 million in the initiative in 2008 and for this year the company has allocated Dh550m. This budget will go towards projects of different SME programmes, for individual initiatives or those of a group of expatriates.

Mawarid's contracts fall under the ijarah, istisnaa, mudharaba, musharaka or wakala deals of Islamic finance according to the type and volume of business with specific guarantees in some cases. "With the aim to encourage SMEs, our deals specify that borrowers would start paying back their debts after completing two years of operations," said Al Neaimi.

Ahmad Al Midfa, Chairman of SCCI, said Ruwad was supporting 30 projects and the total invested capital was around Dh4m.

"The programme, which is limited to UAE nationals, studies the submitted ideas and develops them into a project wherever feasible. Then the applicants get financial support, which is 100 per cent in some cases, directly from Ruwad or through financiers or a bank," he said.

Ruwad continues overseeing these business and offers administrative and financial consultation in case of problems or difficulties, he said.

With the aim to encourage SMEs, Mawarid Finance early this week launched the Tamaiaz Award for contributions towards the Emiratisation process.

Further, the Arab Science and Technology Foundation and the Arab Union of Small Enterprises has appointed Mawarid as their representative for organising the First Arab Industrial Enterprises Competition for small and medium entrepreneurs around the Arab World.

The competition would aim to encourage and inspire Arab youth to establish new industrial enterprises, with Mawarid Finance being a local partner for the UAE, added Al Neaimi.


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