UAE tops inaugural Mastercard MEA SME Confidence Index
Mita Srinivasan
10x Industry

UAE tops inaugural Mastercard MEA SME Confidence Index

88 percent of SMEs in the UAE optimistic about future growth guided by potential for digitalization, access to funding and upskilling:

Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) confidence in the UAE is on the rise, according to the latest research by Mastercard despite facing unprecedented changes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The inaugural Mastercard Middle East and Africa (MEA) SME Confidence Index found that 88 percent of SMEs in the UAE are optimistic about the next twelve months. In fact, two-thirds (66 percent) are projecting revenues that will either grow or hold steady.

As several regional economies begin their normalization and growth phase, as social restrictions continue to ease, SME businesses in the UAE have identified easier access to funding (40 percent), acceptance of digital payments (34 percent) and training and upskilling staff (34 percent) as the top three drivers for growth. This highlights the opportunities for small businesses that arise from both internal transformation as well as industry regulations and trends.

When asked about the main thing that keeps them up at night, 60 percent of SMEs in the UAE mentioned the challenge to maintain and grow their business was their top issue. Looking at concerns over the next 12 months, 61 percent identified the rising cost of doing business, while 38 percent cited the need for easier access to capital and funding. Private sector partnerships (57 percent) and government-led initiatives (53 percent) were identified as having the biggest potential to positively impact SMEs and the wider UAE market.

For many small businesses, reducing their dependence on cash through digital payments acceptance, has played a major factor in being able to get paid and maintain revenues. Mastercard works closely with the government, financial organizations and the wider business community to create opportunities for the over 400,000 SMEs that operate within the UAE and provide employment for over 86 percent of the UAE workforce.

As consumer trends evolve in a post-pandemic world, businesses must adapt and prepare for the future. Mastercard’s Economic Outlook 2021 estimated that 20-30 percent of the Covid-19 related surge in e-commerce would be a permanent trend in share of overall retail spending globally. Recent studies from Mastercard also showed that 73 percent of UAE consumers are shopping more online than they did since the start of the pandemic and 97 percent of UAE shoppers would consider making a purchase with an emerging payment technology over the next year.

Mastercard has pledged $250 million and committed to connect 50 million micro, small and medium size businesses globally to the digital economy by 2025 using its technology, network, expertise and resources in support of its goal of building a more sustainable and inclusive digital economy.