To encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship and make local dreams come true, efforts such as the ‘Sail to Success by RAKBANK' campaign has been a gamechanger for the sector.
In the fast-moving and ultra-competitive entrepreneurial world, success and disappointment are often separated by fine margins. In such a volatile environment, running a business can feel like steering a ship in open sea. Without a sail, your ship will remain stationary, as the world will pass you by.
That is why the future of a company relies on the right environment and the right set of supporting players who can help navigate the choppy waters of the business world. In such a scenario, the UAE has emerged as a haven for those looking to make their mark.
Home to more than 200 nationalities, the melting pot that is the UAE presents a plethora of audience segments for entrepreneurs to target, along with an encouraging and growth-inducing ecosystem. "One of the benefits of creating a company here is the access to different markets.", says Nicholas Watson, the CEO of Udrive, a breakthrough car rental business that re-invented itself by digitising their vehicles and giving its customers access through a mobile app. When asked about how Udrive was born, Watson said, "One of the great things about the UAE is you have a lot of nationalities… a lot of income brackets. And for an entrepreneur, this is amazing because effectively you can build a product that's aligned to a certain audience, or you can try and build a product that will cross boundaries. Now, Udrive has 300,000 more customers, completed more than two million trips, and have plans to extend across the GCC by 2023."
This highly diverse market, along with the UAE's overarching vision to be a thriving innovation-led economy has been a magnet for talented entrepreneurs and start-ups from around the world. At its core, there is a sea of local talent contributing to new enterprise in a multitude of ways.
In the recent Global Entrepreneurship Index which ranks all countries on the success of the national efforts to develop and ease the process for the entrepreneurial sector, the UAE has been placed at number four in the world. This ranking is a huge validation for the country's National Entrepreneurship Agenda as well as the ‘Fifty Economic Plan' which aims to stimulate entrepreneurship and SMEs in the country.
According to Imad Gharazeddine, co-founder & CEO of Mamo Pay, "In the UAE two and half years ago when we began, the government has been very forward-thinking and adaptive, and regulation has actually come a very long way since we started." Mamo Pay, a startup that provides a cutting-edge and seamless way for customers to access their money, was based on a vision of providing 'simpler, faster and friendlier finance'. Thanks to the UAE's business-friendly initiatives, this FinTech startup has now achieved more than 20,000 app downloads and achieved transaction value of $6 million in 2021. Furthermore, they aim to expand to KSA by 2023.
The ease of doing business and entrepreneur-friendly regulations of the UAE is one of the primary reasons why the country is now one of the leading global hubs and destination for businesses. With a range of business parks, free zones and sector-specific 'hubs', there's arguably nowhere else in the region that offers such a supportive backbone for entrepreneurs. This, in turn, also creates even more opportunities for small businesses like Bayzat - an innovative Health Insurance, HR, and Payroll Software platform.
"Over the last seven years, the landscape for employers has changed dramatically, its become much more expensive and complicated to be an SME", said Talal Bayaa, the co-founder and CEO of the company. He adds, "The UAE has always had an entrepreneurial mindset. It's done many firsts from establishing free zones, allowing foreigners to hold property, to a golden visa, and so much more." Bayzat currently serves over 1,500 companies and more than 100,000 employees and has been able to raise more than $35 million since it was launched.
But while government support is a great beginning, solid backing from banking and financial institutions are also necessary to achieve more.
One such leading entity that has positioned itself to be the sail that has directed the course of many UAE startups and businesses, pushing them towards success, is RAKBANK through its 'Sail to Success with RAKBANK' Business campaign. As Badr Ward, the founder and CEO of the educational startup LAMSA said, "The UAE is very supportive when it comes to starting a business, all the way from setting up to having the right foundation… RAKBANK also helped a lot by giving us the sail to push forward.
They supported us throughout our journey all the way from our early beginnings to growth and scale around the region and beyond." Today, the Lamsa app is ranked as one of the top app for kids in the region and has raised more than $25 million in funding so far, with plans to grow beyond MENA.
By directing budding entrepreneurs and SMEs like Udrive, Mamo Pay, Lamsa, and Bayzat towards the right tools and services at the right time, "The Sail to Success" campaign has ensured smooth sailing for many startups and resulted in RAKBANK becoming the most preferred bank for startups and home-grown businesses in the UAE.