Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development and the Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), the UAE Federal export credit company have partnered to shore up the export capabilities of the country’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs). An MoU was signed by Mouza Obaid Al Nasri, Acting CEO of Khalifa Fund and Massimo Falcioni, CEO of ECI.
The agreement aims to bolster SMEs and local enterprises registered under Khalifa Fund as part of their support for the UAE’s national diversification programme. Businesses and exporters under Khalifa Fund stand to gain from this partnership as ECI guarantees to provide them access to a range of export credit, financing and investment insurance products.
According to the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority, the contribution of the SME sector to the UAE’s GDP is estimated at 53 per cent in 2019, up from about 49 per cent in 2018. SMEs, in addition, also contribute to 95 per cent of the companies in the country and employ 86 per cent of the total workforce in the non-oil private sector. Underscoring the importance of this sector, the Federal government aims to increase the contribution of the SME sector to the national economy to around 60 per cent by 2021, a reason ECI offers ‘SME Protect’, a trade credit solution designed to support the growth plans of SMEs globally and assist them while entering high-growth markets. The launch of this product makes ECI the first government export credit company in Middle East and Africa to offer UAE SMEs an online trade credit solution to secure trade and export to more than 50 countries.
Khalifa Fund and ECI share the same vision, and have both always been vital to the growth of the UAE’s non-oil economy. I’m extremely confident that this collaboration will fortify the operations of our members, thereby further reinforcing the country’s economy towards greater heightsMouza Obaid Al Nasri, Acting CEO of Khalifa Fund
Under the agreement, the two entities will establish a committee that will implement initiatives in a bid to bolster the country’s exports. The number of members, the structure of the committee and the means of financing, as well as the schedule of meetings, the working mechanism and the decision-making process will be finalised by ECI and Khalifa Fund.
As part of the agreement, ECI will support businesses under Khalifa Fund through organising workshops regarding the benefits of trade protection solutions, as well as offering bespoke trade credit services that can significantly help cement their presence in the global arena their exports globally.
The Federal export credit company will also provide market intelligence and country risk report to highlight the commercial and political risks associated in international trade activities.
Khalifa Fund will promote the said relevant workshops and events to respective members, as well as facilitate referrals to ECI for enquiries involving trade credit, trade finance, and surety bonds solutions. The Fund will also uphold ECI’s services and products through its newsletter, website, magazine, direct mailing, and events.
Mouza Al Nasri, Acting CEO stated: “The partnership with ECI is an embodiment of Khalifa Fund’s unswerving commitment towards further enhancing the export operations of SMEs in the UAE. Khalifa Fund and ECI share the same vision, and have both always been vital to the growth of the UAE’s non-oil economy.
I’m extremely confident that this collaboration will fortify the operations of our members, thereby further reinforcing the country’s economy towards greater heights.”
Highlighting the importance of this strategic agreement, Falcioni said: “We are incredibly honoured to undertake this partnership with Khalifa Fund, which aims to give a boost to UAE’s SMEs in the global arena. Our institutions share a common mandate to support small businesses and help them prosperously expand, and this alliance will allow us to facilitate new development of products that will help us achieve our aggressive goals of positioning the UAE as the global hub for trade and business. I am looking forward to the many opportunities that this alliance will offer in the interest of the country’s SMEs.”
Established in 2007 under the vision of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Khalifa Fund is an Abu Dhabi-based independent, not-for-profit economic development agency known for supporting entrepreneurs and the development of the SME ecosystem in the UAE.
It helps develop small businesses in the capital through fostering an investment culture amongst UAE nationals. Khalifa Fund began with a total capital of AED 300 million, which gradually increased in 2009 to AED 1 billion, in order to meet the growing demand for the Fund’s services. In 2011, the Fund’s total capital was increased to AED 2 billion, and the Fund covered all of the UAE through a network of branches.
ECI has also shown its steadfast commitment to boost SMEs in line with the UAE’s national export activity and economic diversification, as it has issued AED 420 million worth of trade credit support to these businesses from January to November 2020, which translates to AED 1 billion non-oil trade insured turnover. It has insured the exports of SMEs as well as operations in the domestic market—allowing them to stay competitive in the trade industry amidst the height as well as the easing of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The guarantees helped protect the liquidity of SMEs amidst this challenging economic cycle, assisting businesses in reducing their cost of banking funding and allowing them to request their preferred bank to discount the invoices - secured by ECI - at preferential rate.