The 4th Annual Middle East SME Forum commenced today at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company ( ADNEC) – Abu Dhabi, gathering over 200 entrepreneurs, financial experts, banking professionals and governmental officials to grasp new opportunities and learn from best practices in the region towards entrepreneurial development goal.
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) is the headline sponsor for this forum which will involve over 30 speakers participating in knowledge-sharing sessions, intriguing panel discussions and networking opportunities with industry peers to interact, learn and collect business intelligence and strategic insight thus boosting the SME industry.
The conference was opened by Colin Fraser, Executive Vice President and Head of Wholesale Banking Group at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank which was followed by The Inaugural Welcome Speech was delivered by H.E. Abdullah Saeed Al Darmaki, Chief Executive Officer – Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.
Sudarshan Seshadri, Vice president: Business Banking – Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Chairman for the first day, honoured the conference with his address, followed by the first keynote speech delivered by Howard Gaunt, Executive Vice president: Head of Corporate and Business Banking Group at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.
Howard Gaunt in his speech highlighted ADCB’s contribution towards developing the region’s SME sector, as he said – “The UAE and the Middle East region by extension, are witnessing unprecedented opportunities for existing and rising entrepreneurs. The growing economies, coupled with the ever-changing demographics across the region, are fuelling the opportunities for business diversification, with SMEs having had a very strong early start here. ADCB has been a pioneer in the SME space in UAE, and has been leading the charge on offering SMEs relevant value-added products and services.
We are committed to supporting the growth of SMEs in the UAE; this commitment is reflected not just through our products, but also our active participations in forums like the 4th Annual Middle East SME forum and others. Our strategic relations with the likes of the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development and Dubai SME in developing and supporting home grown SMEs, are testament to our close involvement in the sector.
We believe that forums like the 4th Middle East SME Forum will help shape thoughts and actions that will positively impact SME growth in UAE and in the Region”.
Dhiraj Kunwar, Vice president Regional Head: Business Banking Assets – Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank addressed the ADCB Special session titled “An SME Story – Rise and Fall of SME”, elaborating on the key attributes of a successful and unsuccessful SME organizations and how and when banks can assist in this journey.
The first Panel Discussion entitled “Government and the Private Sector Initiatives towards SME Development Region-Wide” was moderated by Howard Gaunt, and joined by panelists from both government and private sector to brainstorm opportunities and initiatives for the region’s entrepreneurship growth. The participating panelists were Dr. Adeeb Mahmoud Al Afeefi, Director of Foreign Trade and export Support – Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED); Colin Fraser, Executive Vice president | Head of Wholesale Banking Group – Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank; Essam Disi, Senior Manager: Strategy & Policy – Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development; Najla Al Midfa, Senior Manager : Entrepreneurship Development – Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development; Hazim Al-Hajjaj, Chief Executive Officer – Micro Automation Industries and Mohd Rithaudden Makip, Director Business Advisory & Support – SME Corporation Malaysia.
Peter Sage, Chairman of Space Energy, elaborated on the insights into the hidden patterns, techniques and beliefs required to thrive as an entrepreneur into today‘s society, in the featured GURU Panel titled as 21st Century Entrepreneurship.
“Employment Creation Opportunities in the Small Business World” was the main focus of the session presented by Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager – SHARAKAH | Fund for Development of Youth Projects (S.A.O.C.), while Mohd Rithaudden Makip, Director: Business Advisory & Support – SME Corporation Malaysia, explained the Malaysian context of SME Development.
Success stories and best practices in the region were narrated through presentations from celebrated entrepreneurs in the region such as Jawad Khawaja, Managing Director at ATAD International General Trading LLC; Pankaj Jain, Founder & Managing Director at Radiant Holdings; Ghazi CHEBBI, Chief Executive Officer at SACEM Industries and Hazim Al-Hajjaj, Chief Executive Officer – Micro Automation Industries.
Panel Discussion titled as “Building Partnerships between Business Industries, the Government Sector and Schools” was the last session of the first day that featured prominent educationalist and business leaders who have worked together in building entrepreneurial organizations with outclassed skilled worked forced from the education sector.
Nizar Cheniour, Director: Enterprise Development and Support Department – Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development; Ehsan Razavizadeh, Regional Director: Middle East & North Africa, Head of Dubai Centre – Sir John Cass Business School; Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager – SHARAKAH | Fund for Development of Youth Projects (S.A.O.C.); Mohammed Al Shamisi, Senior Manager: Enterprise Development & Support Department – Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development joined this discussion as panelists which was moderated by Adly Al Zou’bi, Vice president | Regional Head – Business Banking Division – Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.
Tomorrow, second day of this forum will witness panel discussions on The Financial Dilemma: Raising and Sustaining Capital, Innovation and a special Open Panel Debate titled “Where to for Entrepreneurs in today’s Economy?”
Presentations will be given by Frank Khoie, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer – Khoie Group; Rohit Garg, Head of Business Banking – Mashreq; Pieter Sleeboom, Chief Executive Officer – Cobone.com; Salman Khuraibet, Chairman – Association of Small & Medium Enterprises of Kuwait (ASMEK); Dr. Maged Amin, Founder and President – Gulfoilandgas.com; Ajay Singh Chauhan, Chief executive officer – Spectrum Group and many more.