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Dial An SME: Five Reasons Why You Should Be Working With Entrepreneurs In The UAE Working with SMEs is an investment that pays off, here's a few reasons why.

By Leila T. Almaeena

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


The UAE's business landscape has expanded tremendously over the last few years. From overseas firms eyeing Dubai as an ideal business hub, to a rise in the number of startups, the demand for quality products and services has increased bi-fold, making it an exciting time for entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to get out there and distinguish themselves as pioneers in their fields.

Recently, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced a package of policies designed to boost the country's economy. Among these, a proposal was approved to allocate 20% of government contracts to SMEs.

This policy, along with several others, is in line with the UAE Vision 2021, which states that by adopting new economic models and reforms, the country will benefit from a sustainable and diversified economy. To achieve this vision, the government has been extremely accommodating towards SMEs. The process of starting a new business has eased up considerably and a lot of incentives are being offered to the various startups in the country.

Despite these advances however, the process for most SMEs to access projects of adequate value from bigger firms is complicated. Often the registration or perusal requirements are rigorous- banks' bid bond requirements are unrealistic, the paperwork involved is sometimes lengthy, and a handful of entities tend to ask work to be done free of charge or with drastic discounts for the sake of "exposure." As a result, SMEs are dissuaded from applying all together, and they have no choice but to stick to the smaller projects, without seeing much growth overall.

As a former corporate head and now an entrepreneur sustaining my company in training and consulting, I have experienced both sides of the fence. It's become a personal mission to help entrepreneurs sprout, grow, and sustain their SMEs in whatever capacity I can. Part of that is by talking them through the process hardships they might encounter, but mostly, it's by advocating them as preferred providers to the government and corporate arenas. With that said, here are a few reasons to consider small businesses with specialized services for your next project, event, or initiative:

1. You get to be a part of the UAE government's vision Supporting an SME makes you part in strengthening the UAE's economy. By being a stakeholder in the UAE Vision 2021, companies can be sure to prosper and contribute around 40% to the total GDP value of Dubai's economy.

2. You get to take advantage of unmatched passion SMEs are comprised of a handful of dedicated individuals who do what they love, and love what they do. An entrepreneur's drive is unmatched, meaning they will go above and beyond in order to provide the best service at a competitive price.

3. You get an experience that's authentic and personal Small businesses are doing their best to stand out from the crowd. SMEs are more than happy to personalize your projects as per your needs, without the complicated process that might be present with bigger vendors. They are also more likely to build a personal relationship with you based on mutual trust, respect, and high standards.

4. You get to work with people who go above and beyond the bare minimum The advantage of signing on an SME is that they can tailor products and services according to your exact needs, while devoting detailed attention to ensuring you get the best. For bigger companies, chances are you might end up with a very standard, mass-produced solution that may not meet the goals you're aiming to fulfill.

5. You'll be getting a fresh approach to things Entrepreneurs work harder to stay on top of trends to keep their brand alive, and so, services will hardly ever go stagnant or dull. The quality of ideas coming from an SME will almost always evolve and expand, rather than adapt to a copy-paste approach.

In the long run, working with SMEs is an investment that pays off. Not only are you playing within the field by employing an SME, you're also working in tandem with the government's vision to boost the ever-growing economy.

Related: Three Reasons Why You Should Be Giving Your Business To Middle East Startups

Leila T. Almaeena

Founder, LA Coaching & Consulting

Leila T. Almaeena is the founder of LA Coaching & Consulting, a Dubai-based private coaching practice specializing in workplace wellness. A Saudi-American, Almaeena joined the American Red Cross in 2000 as assistant deputy director of financial development in Houston Texas, before returning to the Middle East in 2004 to work as senior project manager at the Dubai-based Arab Media Group. Her achievements caught the eye of the Abu Dhabi Media Company, leading her to head up a number of strategic project-based initiatives for the industry heavyweight. More recently, Almaeena was Managing Director of Alsayegh Media, an Emirati integrated agency, where she was part of the team responsible for the agency’s emergence as one of the premier innovators in digital media.

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