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SMEs confidence levels on the rise

Issac John /Dubai
issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com Filed on August 18, 2021
The main thing that keeps 54 per cent of SMEs in construction and manufacturing up at night is the challenge to maintain and grow their business. — File photo

The inaugural Mastercard Middle East and Africa SME Confidence Index found that 74 per cent of SMEs in construction and manufacturing are optimistic about the next 12 months of growth driven by the up-skilling of staff, easier access to credit and better data and insights


The confidence level of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across most sectors in the region is on the rise, with the retail segment most bullish about the next 12 months, according to the latest research by Mastercard.

The inaugural Mastercard Middle East and Africa SME Confidence Index found that 74 per cent of SMEs in construction and manufacturing are optimistic about the next 12 months of growth driven by the up-skilling of staff, easier access to credit and better data and insights.

“Confidence levels were highest among businesses in retail, closely followed by food, beverage and entertainment. Construction and manufacturing sectors had the best forecasts, with 76 per cent of SMEs projecting revenues that will either grow or hold steady. Half (50 per cent) are projecting an increase,” said the research report.

Amnah Ajmal, executive vice president, Market Development, Middle East and Africa for Mastercard, said as manufacturing and construction businesses continue to build back better through a combination of digital transformation and people development, they are also encouraging other SMEs in this sector.

“At Mastercard will look forward to a seamless continuation of supporting the SME ecosystem, providing the payments technology infrastructure and wider business solutions that will spur wide, inclusive growth of the digital economy,” Ajmal said .

The report noted that as many regional economies gradually enter the normalisation and growth phase, and social restrictions continue to ease, small and medium sized businesses in the Middle East Africa (MEA) region’s construction and manufacturing sector have identified upskilling staff (56 per cent), easier access to credit (56 per cent) and better data and insights (52 per cent), as the top drivers for growth. “This highlights the opportunities for small businesses that arise from internal transformation as well as industry regulations and trends,” said the report.

The main thing that keeps 54 per cent of SMEs in construction and manufacturing up at night is the challenge to maintain and grow their business. Looking at concerns over the next 12 months, six in ten (60 per cent) identified the rising cost of doing business, while 47 per cent cited access to capital.

From an operational perspective, concerns for the next year include maintaining current staff levels (47 per cent), training and up-skilling staff (44 per cent), finding the right talent for new needs (39 per cent) and mental and physical wellbeing (39 per cent) – highlighting the growing trend around the development of people as a key theme for small business success, Mastercard said.

The area where most construction and manufacturing businesses in the region say they now need support, is in help managing or upskilling teams (55 per cent). SMEs in this sector also want access to a wider range of financial services (55 per cent) and effective regulatory support from government (54 per cent).

“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 offers technology, data-driven insights, consulting and predictive analytics solutions to empower businesses to acquire new customers, enhance customer loyalty and improve operations,” said the report.

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 the company’s goal of building a more sustainable and inclusive digital economy. As part of these efforts, Mastercard is focused on connecting 25 million women entrepreneurs.

— issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com

author

Issac John

Editorial Director of Khaleej Times, is a well-connected Indian journalist and an economic and financial commentator. He has been in the UAE's mainstream journalism for 35 years, including 23 years with Khaleej Times. A post-graduate in English and graduate in economics, he has won over two dozen awards. Acclaimed for his authentic and insightful analysis of global and regional businesses and economic trends, he is respected for his astute understanding of the local business scene.





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