SMEs advised on how to take their products and services to an international market
Impressive speaker line-up included Her Highness Sheikha Dr. Hind bint Abdul Aziz Al Qassimi, Chairperson of the UAE Businesswomen’s Council
Dubai Exports, an agency of the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED), SME Advisor Middle East, a magazine aimed at small and medium enterprises in the region, and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) organised a hugely successful seminar entitled “Success Through Exports”. The event took place on 20th April at the Grand Hyatt in Dubai.
It was part of the SME Success Series events jointly organised by SME Advisor and ADCB. Dubai Exports was the strategic partner for “Success Through Exports” and brought invaluable subject matter expertise and support to the initiative, further reiterating the DED’s commitment to small and medium enterprises in Dubai.
“Dubai Exports continually seeks to identify new and innovative ways by which to increase the level of exports from the country. This seminar is just one further example of how we are seeking to increase the knowledge base of our companies so that they are competitive in global markets,” said Engineer Saed Al Awadi, CEO, Dubai Exports. He further commented that exporting allows SMEs to grow their business yet benefit from geographical diversification.
Her Highness Sheikha Dr. Hind Al Qassimi, Chairwoman, UAE Businesswomen’s Council, presented the keynote speech whereby she stated that, “Despite the obstacles and difficulties women face, they succeed in overcoming them through creating and finding business opportunities under the umbrella of free trade pursued by the Government of the UAE.”
Sheikha Dr. Hind also pointed out that, “Over the past 39 years, women in the UAE were able to take important steps in the field of investment and entrepreneurship. They form around 4.5% of the total number of investors and are managing approximately AED 12.5 billion which has been invested in the trade, banking, real estate, tourism, industrial, contracting, construction and services sectors. They also invested AED 2.1 billion in the manufacturing sector.” The UAE Businesswomen’s Council currently represents over 11,000 members and covers 30% of the SMEs with savings of AED 27 billion.
A need for more SMEs to export
“Success Through Exports” highlighted how SMEs can take their products and services to an international market. In most countries only a small proportion of SMEs actually earn revenue from exporting activities. In Dubai, where SMEs account for 98.5% of all firms, less than 10% export, and consequently earn any form of export revenues. Most export sales by SMEs are modest in terms of scale, with 68% of goods exporters generating less than AED 1 million worth of exports per annum per firm. Collectively, these firms account for less than 1% of total exports.
“Such a low level of export activity by SMEs leads to the natural question as to why they are not exporting. The importance of this question is underpinned by the fact that exports allow firms to enhance their competitiveness, provide opportunities for growth and innovation as well as technology transfer, diversify their revenue base, benefit from economies of scale and of course increase profits,” said Dr. Ashraf Mahate, Head of Export Market Intelligence at the Dubai Exports and Vice Chair of the Economic Policy Committee, Dubai DED.
According to research carried out by Dubai Exports, there are two main reasons why SMEs do not tend to export – namely, internal and external barriers – though these barriers in themselves are not sufficient to impede any overseas activity. Various studies have shown that the real export barriers are the psychological or behavioural attitudes of the owner or manager. “Psychological inertia towards exporting is something that these seminars are intended to break,” commented Richard Judd, Commercial Director, CPI Business and IT, which publishes SME Advisor Middle East.
Supporting UAE businesses
Focusing on these issues, “Success Through Exports” was a means to provide SMEs with the latest information, support and tools they require, whether they are just beginning to consider export as an option to expand, or whether they are established mid-market players.
Nilanjan Ray, Sr. Vice President, Head – SME Banking, ADCB reiterated the need for supporting SMEs: “ADCB is focussing on the SME segment and trade finance as areas of strategic growth. In view of this, the export /re-export business in the UAE is of great significance as the UAE has emerged as the re-export hub in the region. We at ADCB have launched several products focussed on this segment of clients operating in the SME space and will continue to do so. We are shortly coming up with a Business Banking branch in Jebel Ali to expand our footprint in this segment. We also plan to launch a specialised pre-shipment finance programme for exporters in the SME segment. We believe this product will cater to a latent demand in this segment. In addition, we are ready to launch our online Fx trading platform – Fx Freeway to help exporters and importers manage their foreign exchange flows efficiently.”
Ray further pointed out that, “In keeping with our focus in this segment, we are extremely happy to partner with Dubai Exports to organise this event. We hope this will help bring necessary attention to the potential of this segment and will help address relevant issues.”
John Lincoln, Vice President, Enterprise Marketing, du – who advised attendees on managing international customers, and who has over 20 years of international hands-on operating experience in emerging and developed markets from the Far East to the Middle East, the Americas and Europe – said: “If you are conducting business in international markets, the world is your oyster. However be warned of the pitfalls and intricacies. Managing international customers is an art and a science. This and the many other pertinent issues covered during this event will, hopefully, help SMEs with a few of the challenges they face.”
“SMEs need to expand overseas if they are to grow their business and form new alliances and partnerships” said Ketaki Banga, Senior Editor, SME Advisor. She added: “SME Advisor is grateful for the support provided by Dubai Exports and ADCB. We will be organising various such events throughout the year. Not only will these events be educational and informative, but will also provide platforms to voice concerns, make new contacts through networking, and share experiences and advice.”
A day with the experts
The impressive speaker line-up at “Success Through Exports” included Her Highness Sheikha Dr. Hind bint Abdul Aziz Al Qassimi, Chairperson of the UAE Businesswomen’s Council, and Engineer Saed Al Awadi, CEO Dubai Exports.
The seminar covered a number of topics some of which included: Trade finance: Innovative solutions for SMEs, by Murali Subramanian, Head Transaction Banking, ADCB; Web based strategies by Jean- Marc Paufique the General Manager at Zawya; Internet technology and export business, by Imtiaz Ali, Director – Global Sales, Tijari; Franchising, agents and distributors as a foreign entry route, by Gautam Sen Gupta, Market Vision; and Protecting your intellectual property rights, by Faisal Daudpota, Head of Data Privacy & Information Security, Al Tamimi & Company. Other topics included Global logistics: Innovation in supply chain management, by Damien Sheehan, Commercial Manager, DHL Express, UAE; Export risk mitigation techniques, by Pedro Mairos, Regional Marine Underwriter Manager Gulf Axa Insurance; and Export Credit Insurance by Schyler D’Souza, COO, Export Credit Insurance Company of the Emirates (ECIE).
For event details, speaker presentations and post-event coverage, please visit www.smeadvisor.com/events/success-through-exports.