Encouraging small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in the UAE to export goods will become an increasingly important goal for the Abu Dhabi-based Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.

Abdullah Al-Dharmaki, chief executive officer at the Khalifa fund, says although some of the companies the fund supports are beginning to export their products, “we still have lots to work on”.

Speaking at MEED’s Abu Dhabi conference, Al Dharmaki said that the notion of the SME remains a “relatively new concept” in the UAE. Yet, as regulation relating to SME business practices develop, he predicts they will become a “more significant part of the economy”.

Since the fund was established five years ago, approximately 350 small businesses have been approved and financed. Almost three-quarters of these businesses were start-up firms.

The fund provides a number of different forms of financing, including start-up funding and micro-finance. It has also ventured into agri-business financing.