x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Abu Dhabi businesses get a boost from HSBC

HSBC strikes a deal with the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce to support small businesses who wish to take their trade overseas.

Small companies seeking to expand out of Abu Dhabi and make profits overseas should benefit from a deal to boost the Government's diversification drive.

HSBC signed an agreement with the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce to assist local entrepreneurs develop their businesses overseas. The bank also said it was preparing to launch a new fund to assist the development of small businesses.

"We would like to see Emirati companies having the ambition and opportunity to compete and succeed within the global [as] well as the local economy and HSBC has an important role to play in making this a reality," said Mohamed Rashed al Hameli, the director general of the Chamber of Commerce.

As part of the Vision 2030 plan, the Abu Dhabi Government has attempted to increase support for small and medium enterprises, or SMEs, classed as companies with a turnover of less than US$30 million (Dh110.1m).

Under the agreement, the bank and the chamber of commerce will provide educational seminars for small businesses and provide overseas introductions.

Emirati companies are well travelled compared with the rest of the world, with 47 per cent of UAE businesses trading internationally compared with a global average of 29 per cent, HSBC said.

Abdulfattah Sharaf, the chief executive of HSBC UAE, said the bank was preparing a "sizable" investment fund to focus on small businesses, following the success of its previous $100m fund created last year with the Ministry of Economy, which is now fully allocated.

"HSBC is uniquely placed to assist SMEs with international requirements, whether this is facilitating and protecting their international sales and purchases through structured trade solutions or expanding their business around the world," Mr Sharaf added.

Small businesses took a knock during the financial crisis but have shown some strength since, according to Dr Giyas Gokkent, the chief economist at National Bank of Abu Dhabi. "They flourished until 2008, but there's been a bounce back from 2009," he said.

"The reason why there's so much focus is because you can't have diversification without having a vibrant SME sector."

However, small businesses often require help to break out of their "comfort zone" and reach international markets, said Andrew Beane, the head of business banking for HSBC Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. "If you go under the umbrella of the Abu Dhabi Government, it brings a lot more credibility.

"If you want to sell to the United States, it's completely different from selling to Ras al Khaimah," he said.

ghunter@thenational.ae