With less than 480 days to go until Expo 2020 Dubai, there is no better time for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to grow into the Middle East and beyond.
Expo 2020 Dubai awarded contracts totalling AED 2.4 billion to companies with fewer than 250 employees up to end-March 2019, with more tenders to come as it progresses to the next phase of delivery.
Expo 2020 has committed to awarding 20 per cent of the monetary value of its contracts to SMEs, a sector that forms the backbone of the UAE and global economy.
According to the United Nations, which marks World SME Day on 27 June, small businesses are key to creating the 600 million jobs needed by 2030 to keep pace with the growth of the world’s working age population.
Expo has been at the forefront of pioneering new initiatives to improve the ease of doing business for SMEs. These include clearing payments in 30 days instead of the 90-day industry standard, guaranteeing a 50 per cent payment upfront when procuring goods, or 25 per cent when contracting services, and accepting bank cheques instead of deposits.
Earlier this month, Emirates NBD, Expo 2020’s Official Banking Partner, announced a new account designed specifically for SMEs registered on Expo’s Online Marketplace (OMP), providing them with preferential loan rates, working capital support and low minimum balance requirements.
These efforts have seen SMEs flock to register on the OMP, a free, high-powered eProcurement platform and database where businesses from all over the world can post and award tenders, as well as advertise services. Of the 34,904 businesses signed up to date, 85 per cent are SMEs, a sector which won 56 per cent of all direct and indirect contracts awarded by Expo 2020.
All Expo 2020 tenders are exclusively listed on the OMP
, and Expo is encouraging more companies to sign up to take advantage of billions of dirhams in new tenders as delivery moves from construction to operations.