Seventeen small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the technology, food and beverage, and healthcare sectors were recognised at the Gulf Capital SME Awards 2019 for implementing innovative techniques and strategies that have lead to business growth and rapid expansion.

MEED and Gulf Capital unveiled the winners of the eighth edition of the prestigious awards at a gala dinner hosted at The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre, on 25 September.

SME market

The UAE continues to be the preferred location for SMEs to flourish, with the number of new companies entering the market increasing by 30 per cent over the past decade, according to a recent report by Diligencia, Gulf Capital and MEED.

The number of new companies in the technology sector has increased dramatically over the past five years, rising from 11 per cent of new SMEs in the UAE in 2015 to 47 per cent in 2018 – a leap that is testament to the commitment among local organisations to be at the forefront of innovation.

The healthcare industry has also grown consistently over the past 10 years, with a significant peak in 2018. Many of these new SMEs have capitalised on the strength of the UAE’s pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector, especially in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Record number of entries

This year, the awards, which recognise new and existing SME businesses, received a record number of 300 applications from companies and entrepreneurs across 17 categories.

Commenting on the accolades, Karim el-Solh, CEO of Gulf Capital, said: “SMEs are the driving force of the UAE’s economy, as they constitute over 90 per cent of all the organisations in the country. We are pleased to recognise and celebrate the achievements of the SMEs that continue to fuel the growth of the UAE economy and are displaying world-class capabilities by being champions of growth and innovation. Gulf Capital is proud to be sponsoring this SME Award programme and to be celebrating and backing these promising SMEs.”

“Entrepreneurs and small companies are the drivers of the future success of this region,” says MEED editorial director Richard Thompson. “SMEs account for over 90 per cent of the companies in the market and their energy, creativity and risk taking not only will drive growth and create wealth, but it also will be a source of innovations to tackle climate change, services that create healthier and happier societies, and careers that develop knowledge and skills.

“Through these awards, MEED is supporting SMEs in the UAE by celebrating their finest achievements. And even if they have not won an award on the night, every company participating in the Gulf Capital SME Awards 2019 is a winner and should be applauded for the contribution it is making to the future of this region.”

The complete list of winners includes:

Electric Way is one of the fastest growing distributors of the electrical items in Dubai, providing energy solutions to leading companies in the UAE and GCC.

The judges praised Electric Way for re-inventing a traditional business model with technology as their differentiator and for their exceptional company vision and realistic future plans. They commented on the great investment in their people and realisation of the value of upskilling their staff.  An all-round well deserved winner.  Congratulations Electric Way.

  • Business Innovation of the Year – Accumed

Accumed is the first, and largest, company in the Middle East to provide comprehensive end-to-end revenue cycle management solutions to the healthcare sector.

The judges commended Accumed for bridging the gap between medical providers and service payers, and bringing international best practice into a local template.

Parisima is a strategic talent advisory and delivery business enabling clients to improve their performance through better talent acquisition.

The judges praised the huge percentage growth of Parisima over the past 2 years and the fact that all revenues made from outside the UAE are brought back into the country.  Parisima also showcased excellent future growth plans.

The Camel Soap Factory produces sustainable and environmentally sensitive natural skincare products using locally sourced camel milk.

Our judges praised this home-grown company for its commitment to innovation, sustainability and its team. The Camel Soap Factory has secured exclusive future contracts which will ensure it remains a leading supplier of sustainable and environmentally friendly products.

  • Business Leader of the Year – Kain Clark-Darby, managing director of Parisima Talent

Parisima is a strategic talent advisory and delivery business enabling clients to improve their performance through better talent acquisition.

Kain was applauded for his passion, energy and confidence. The judges were impressed by the speed at which he has grown the business, while remaining focused on improving the employee experience.  Well done Kain.

  • CSR Programme of the Year – Blissart

Blissart enables the community by providing artists, buyers and art enthusiasts with a platform that challenges the traditional art market.

The judges congratulated Blissart on its groundbreaking initiative allowing artists in far corners of the world to be recognised and monetised; the ease with which the process is streamlined; and the founders’ initiative to frame artworks at their own cost – in turn supporting the local artisan community.  Well done!

Leela’s lunches is in the business of shaping the palates of the future generation, towards real and whole foods.

Our judges were not only very impressed with the business concept and the determination to create a healthier UAE, but also with the overall business model and the growth achieved in only three years.  Well done!

TechKnowledge is the leading specialised electronic information solutions provider in the Middle East.

Our judges commended ixtel technologies for its continued investment in research and innovation focused on value-based solutions for clients. Congratulations.

FEDS are the industry leaders in Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) commonly referred to as ‘Drones’.

The judges were inspired by FED’s dedication to innovation and diversity and its commitment to providing cost-efficient, time-saving, safer solutions that are far superior in quality and detail than any other in the market.

Ixtel is a leading digital services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations.

Our judges commended ixtel technologies for its continued investment in research and innovation focused on value-based solutions for their clients. Congratulations.

The Camel Soap Factory produces sustainable and environmentally sensitive natural skincare products using locally sourced camel milk.

Our judges praised this home-grown company for its commitment to innovation, sustainability and to its team. The company has won exclusive contracts that will secure its future as a leading supplier of sustainable and environmentally friendly products.

Pure Harvest invests in world-leading controlled-environment agriculture technologies to deliver their customers the best quality produce.

Sky’s belief, drive and ambition has driven Pure Harvest Smarts Farms rapid growth and his resilience and commitment will undoubtedly ensure expansion in the future. Impressive work Sky, well done.

Direct Access are experts in access for people of determination.

This startup business provides unique expertise to building and infrastructure owners to ensure that their facilities are available and accessible to everyone in society. The passion and determination shown by the team at Direct Access to achieve their mission is truly inspirational.

Right Doors connects the dots and matches the right buyers or sellers with the right property.

Our judges were impressed by Rightdoors.com’s impressive growth trajectory, clearly articulated value proposition and forecast over the past two years. The judges additionally praised the company for its transparent processes and tech-oriented solutions to a real problem.

  • New Entrepreneur of the Year – Adel Abu-Aysha, Founder & CEO of Bubble-bro

Bubble-bro is the UAE’s only soda maker supplier with an in-house cylinder exchange facility and program.

Adels own passion for sparkling water is what drove him to create Bubble-bro. The judges stated that his drive and sacrifice is commendable and they are sure that he has a bright future. Congratulations Adel.

  • People and Culture of the Year – Ecocoast

Ecocoast exists to develop pioneering solutions for sustainable coastal and marine developments.

The judging panel was very impressed with how HR development was embedded in the corporate culture of Ecocoast and also with its staff development strategy. The judges also commended Ecocoast on its current workforce engagement scores.

Pure Harvest invests in world-leading controlled-environment agriculture technologies to deliver their customers the best quality produce.

The judges were extremely impressed with this concept and believe it will thrive both in this region and globally. The company must be noted for its sustainability credentials and for boosting local food security. Well done Pure Harvest!

Phanes Group is an international solar energy developer, investment manager and asset manager.

The judges loved the passion that Phanes showed for its operations and praised the home-grown company for its global clean power contribution from completed projects, exceeding 100MW. This equates to global Co2 emissions being reduced by over 146,000 tonnes per year! Amazing achievement. Well done Phanes Group.