Khalifa Fund launches project to accelerate SMEs’ innovation - GulfToday

Khalifa Fund launches project to accelerate SMEs’ innovation


The ‘Level Up’ project will equip up to 10 successful SMEs and startups with high-quality and specialist support. File/WAM

Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development has officially launched its ‘Level Up’ project, helping entrepreneurs, SMEs and startups, seize new opportunities that will stabilise, strengthen and scale up their business.

The programme will focus on elevating priority sectors in Abu Dhabi, by accelerating the development of home-grown ventures, creating sector jobs and driving forward UAE’s transition to a knowledge-based economy. It aims to equip up to 10 successful SMEs and startups with high-quality and specialist support to sustain the growth of their business. Speaking on the occasion, Mouza Al Nasri, Acting CEO of Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, stated, “Entrepreneurs, SMEs and startups play a fundamental role in contributing to our economy. That is why we are positioning them at the heart of this programme designed to provide seamless access to new markets, technologies and expertise. The success of this project will help in strengthening the growth potential for post-COVID-19 recovery with the aim of turning Abu Dhabi and the UAE into a greater powerhouse of creativity and innovation.

“We are keen to have more small and medium-sized businesses joining us, as we aim to boost their forward-looking capacity, resilience and responsiveness, rebuilding from the pandemic in a way that bolsters competitiveness and helps empower them with more opportunities to go green amid the global climate change crisis.” ‘Level Up’ is scheduled to operate in consecutive stages, each lasting from 2 to 4.5 months according to specialised sectors, starting with agriculture. The general format will include two months of learning and mentorship, a forum and demo day, plus two meetup events. Other sectors to be covered include finance, ICT, health services, biopharma, Agricultural Technology (AgTech), tourism and real estate.

The first stage of the programme, ‘Reimaging the Future of Agriculture and Food’ will run from 1st October to 6th December 2021, aiming to contribute to the National Food Security Strategy 2051 by accelerating the development of resilient and sustainable agricultural practices.

Al Nasri added, “At the Khalifa Fund, we remain flexible and agile in providing the right support for small businesses amid changing circumstances and evolving needs of the marketplace. We remain proactive in readjusting our support processes to meet the evolution of challenges and opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses. By driving prosperity, our work will help contribute to the nation’s stability, as well as increase the UAE’s influence globally.”

Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development recently published  an ‘Impact Report’, which measures the effectiveness of their funding programmes between 2007-2019, and how their various forms of funding have helped develop SMEs and shape the future of the UAE’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. According to its new report the Fund said it has issued a total of Dhs1.32 billion ($359 million) in loans and directly created 15,000 jobs between 2017 and 2019. The 54-page report assessed how the UAE’s economy and GDP were impacted, how the SME sector performed financially, and how many jobs were created directly as a result of loans from Khalifa Fund.

The report used six key indicators to gauge the level of impact the various forms of funding provided, including: enterprise creation, job creation, financial and economic analysis, internationalisation and perceived operational impact. The indictors showed Khalifa Fund’s funding resulted in: the creation of 15,000 jobs in the UAE market, 1,800 of which for Emiratis; 1,168 activated loans, with an accumulative sum of Dhs1.32 billion; 152 projects that export to international markets; the establishment of 6 per cent of the Emirati SMEs; and an overall ROI of 15.5 per cent. Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development recently revealed their end-of-year results, achievements and statistics through their 2020 Annual Report.

The Fund successfully finished the year with achievements in cultivating entrepreneurial culture and creating the appropriate environment to develop the SME sector. Notably, Khalifa Fund was able to develop tools, initiatives and programs with the aim of decreasing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small and medium enterprises.

The Khalifa Fund 2020 annual report revealed several positive indicators achieved last year, including: conducting 130 training courses of which 8,643 entrepreneurs benefitted from, 2,263 new applications.

Despite the unprecedented circumstances that affected the world at large, Khalifa Fund was able to approve 10 new loans, amounting to about 8 million dirhams, and increase the total number of activated loans to 1,164.


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