Just Falafel was named Gulf Capital Business of the Year at MEED’s Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on Wednesday night in Dubai.

The fast food franchise opened in 2007 and now has outlets in seven countries, trading through or selling into 1,500 stores. Eight other businesses and two entrepreneurs were also honoured at the event.

SME Awards winners

SMEinfo Awards winners

In the UAE, 90 per cent of businesses are SMEs, and Karim el-Solh, chief executive officer (CEO) of investment firm Gulf Capital, told almost 500 finalists, sponsors and guests they are “the bloodline of the regional economy”.

“Many of the region’s largest conglomerates and family businesses started as small businesses,” he said. “I am convinced that a number of our finalists and winners today will become the future leaders and large employers of tomorrow.”

Smashing Cleaning Services won MasterCard Small Business of the Year and also Sustainable Initiative of the Year. The support services company’s managing director, Leny Day, was also named Regus Business Leader of the Year. This is the second consecutive year a woman has won that title.

The finalists in all categories recorded a total turnover of AED850m ($231m), representing an average annual growth rate of 150 per cent over the past two years.

“It has been a truly amazing year for the awards programme, which received a record number of entrants,” said Becky Crayman, MEED’s head of awards. “The awards not only celebrate outstanding achievements among SMEs, but have also become a more proactive intelligence support system for the sector.”

The winners are:

  • Gulf Capital Business of the Year | Just Falafel
  • Business Innovation of the Year | WMS Metal Industries
  • MasterCard Small Business of the Year | Smashing Cleaning Services
  • RSA Start-up Business of the Year | Platinum Heritage Tourism
  • Emirati Business of the Year | Centre for Musical Arts
  • Online Business of the Year | Propertyfinder.ae
  • Business Innovation of the Year | Micro Automation Industries
  • Customer Focus of the Year | E-Walls Studio              
  • DHL People & Culture of the Year | Innovative HR Solutions
  • Regus Business Leader of the Year | Leny Day, MD, Smashing Cleaning Services
  • Grant Thornton Entrepreneur of the Year | Prabissh Thomas, Founder and Group MD, PTL Solar
  • Sustainable Initiative of the Year | Smashing Cleaning Services