The best small businesses and entrepreneurs in the UAE have been been recognised at the Gulf Capital SME Awards 2018.

Thirteen companies and four small business leaders received awards for their achievements over the past year at a glittering ceremony at Dubai’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel on 26 September.

The top award of the night, the Gulf Capital Business of the Year, was shared by joint winners Phanes Group and Spatial Composite Solutions, which was also a joint winner of the B2B Small Business of the Year award.

Lina Kouatly of Lunatus was named Entrepreneur of the Year, while Insydo’s Tanaz Dizadji received the Business Leader of the Year award.

Gulf Capital SME Awards 2018

More than 400 entrepreneurs and small business leaders representing 99 finalists attended the awards ceremony, which marked the culmination of a year-long search to find the UAE’s best small businesses.

The Gulf Capital SME Awards have been organised by MEED, in partnership with Gulf Capital, since their inception in 2011.

The 2018 round comprised 16 award categories and saw entries from more than 200 companies from across the UAE.

The awards seek to recognise and celebrate the achievements of the best small businesses and entrepreneurs in the UAE.

The awards are endorsed by the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development and Dubai SME, and are supported by category sponsor Virtuzone and event partners Ripe Organic and Micropolis.

Judging

The judging process comprised two rounds of shortlisting and a presentation by the entrepreneurs or business leaders to the judges. The judging panel featured senior executives from leading local and international companies including Gulf Capital, Khalifa Fund, VirtuZone, Gulf Credit Partners, Dubai Airports, Dubai SME, Google, Bayt.com, Emirates Foundation, Department of Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, Carrefour and MBC Group among others.

Gulf Capital SME Awards 2018 winners

Business Innovation of the Year

Ecocoast

What the judges said:

“Ecocoast’s ocean-cleaning curtain is a true innovation, a superb new product that tackles a fundamental global issue.”

Business Leader of the Year

Tanaz Dizadji, Insydo

What the judges said:

“Tanaz was the standout entry, with the clearest vision for her business and an incredible drive to succeed.”

Customer Focus of the Year

Smart Fitness

What the judges said:

“The judges were impressed with their retention strategies, specifically around equity, which are rare for theirs or any industry.”

Digital Business of the Year

Finalrentals.com

What the judges said:

“Finalrentals’ achievements were borderline amazing. The vision and drive they displayed for their business made them stand out from the competition.”

Disruption of the Year

Bizx Trading

What the judges said:

“A truly disruptive business model, with their online trading and bartering tool paving the way for plenty of copycats in the years ahead.”

Emirati Business of the Year

Futurists Hub

What the judges said:

“The space Futurist’s Hub were operating in was immensely innovative and the clear strategic direction they displayed will reap rewards in the coming years.”

Entrepreneur of the Year

Dr Lina Kouatly, Lunatus

What the judges said:

“It was clear that Dr Lina really cares about her people. With the pedigree of being a previous GM, she understands how a corporate works and has applied that to her own organisation. She is the definition of an entrepreneur.”

Micro Business of the Year

Leela’s Lunches

What the judges said:

“Leela’s Lunches has taken a sustainable approach to both their end product and their organisation, as well as the really personal way they interact with their customers.”

New Entrepreneur of the Year

Joint winners

Fahmi al-Shawwa, Immensa Technology Labs

Loredana Matei, Jensen Matthews

What the judges said:

“Joking aside (we found Fahmi and Loredana impossible to separate), Fahmi has had incredible success and has a clear plan for the next two years. We loved Loredana’s energy and passion.”

People and Culture of the Year

Smart Fitness

What the judges said:

“The tribe-like culture that Smart Fitness has created made us all want to be part of their community.”

Startup Business of the Year

Support Legal

What the judges said:

“This was a disruptive business model, with engaging owners and a clear business plan with achievable growth targets.”

Sustainable Business of the Year

Joint winters

Ecocoast

Sustainable Environmental Technologies (SET)

What the judges said:

“The judges could not separate the intrinsic sustainability of Eco-Coast’s business model from the amazing CSR initiatives from SET.”

B2B Small Business of the Year – Above AED15m

Joint winners

Aquaplex

Spatial Composite Solutions

What the judges said:

“The historical performance and sustainability of Aquaplex made them almost impossible to compare with the forward-thinking and target-beating nature of Spatial.”

B2B Small Business of the Year – Below AED15m

Beehive

What the judges said:

“The innovative position they hold in the market, as well as the needs they are serving, positioned them above the other finalists.”

B2C Small Business of the Year

Sprii

What the judges said:

“The judges were amazed with Sprii. They have displayed incredible growth, with a very simple business model, zero capex and no inventory. Very impressive stuff!”

Gulf Capital Business of the Year

Joint winners

Phanes Group

Spatial Composite Solutions

What the judges said:

“It was impossible to differentiate the incredible performances of these two companies – a testament to the quality of the entries this year.”