The year of Expo 2020: how it will impact SMEs
Rushika Bhatia
10X Industry

The year of Expo 2020: how it will impact SMEs

Using an effective checklist as a guideline is a helpful way to start laying the foundation for a successful year ahead.

It is complex to predict exactly what will unfold in 2020 and how this will impact businesses, but from the perspective of the SME ecosystem in the region, where businesses continue to innovate and support each other, SME10X and UPS round up the top factors to consider as we enter the year of the Expo.

Many business owners are anticipating what new challenges and opportunities Expo 2020 will bring for SMEs in the region. Last year, we saw many predictions, developments and announcements surrounding the mega-event and what it can do for local businesses.

As we countdown to the Expo 2020, we put together top 5 factors that will impact SMEs considering the mega-event and how they will reshape and alter the way business is done.

1. Sustainability will become an intrinsic part of every SME: With plans to deliver the world’s most sustainable expo ever, all eyes are on Expo 2020 and its sustainability agenda. This combined with the current worldwide debate around sustainability, there will be an increased focus on sustainable business practices in order to continue conducting business – particularly on an international stage.

2. Expo 2020’s legacy will continue creating opportunities: Expo 2020 is a long-term investment in the future of the UAE. A report by EY predicts that Expo 2020 and its legacy will contribute around AED 122.6 billion gross value added to the UAE’s economy and support around 905,200 full-time job years between 2013-2031. This clearly indicates that the after-effects of Expo 2020 will continue to be felt on areas such as infrastructure, contracts and employment.

Mutasem Dajani, UAE regional managing partner at Deloitte, explains: “Words like ‘transformative’ and ‘economic catalyst’ have been used to describe the potential impact of Expo 2020. When you consider that according to the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), in 2010 more than 73 million visitors and 246 participating governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGO) attended the Shanghai Expo, the far-reaching scale of the Expo platform and its ability to create a lasting legacy becomes clear. While close to US$7 billion has reportedly been earmarked for development and infrastructure projects in Dubai so far, and tens of millions of visitors are expected in the first six months, the fact that Dubai is itself strategically located within four hours of a third of the world’s population and is a bridge between developed and developing nations gives this Expo added potential for wider impact leading up to the event and afterwards for years to come.”

3. Expo 2020 contracts dedicated for SMEs: One of the biggest initiatives in 2019 came in the form of the landmark announcement that 20% of the Expo’s total direct and indirect spend will be allocated to SMEs. This was estimated to be around US$1.36 billion in contracts value.

4. Partnerships and alliances will be critical: Supporting and partnering with fellow SMEs will be more important in 2020 than ever before. There is always room to be more creative in the way you develop new business: build strategic alliances, create collaborations, prioritise referrals among your growing networks and support other business owners. It would be critical for SMEs to find new networking groups to join, experiment with new ways to make new connections and spend time forming stronger relationships with your existing contacts.

5. SMEs will need to become more tech-savvy: With some of the best technologies from around the world being showcased at the Expo 2020, it would be imperative for SMEs to adopt new technologies to continue sustaining their competitive edge. Business owners can’t afford to not pay attention to how technology is affecting businesses and industries. One of the most common reasons that great businesses fail is because they are not able to adapt fast enough to the rapid advancement of the technology surrounding them.