Proving self-funded, small businesses can eventually be big, UAE small- and micro-enterprises and entrepreneurs took the spotlight at the recently concluded Gulf Capital SME Awards.

RSA Logistics, a self-funded enterprise co-founded by Abhishek Ajay Shah in 2009, was named Gulf Capital Business of the Year. Through key partnerships and collaborations, RSA Logistics and its affiliate brands have now come together under the RSA Global banner, thus consolidating its comprehensive suite of supply chain solutions under one name. Headquartered in Dubai, RSA currently employs over 300 people.

Sharing the limelight at the event honouring the success, growth and innovation of the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector in the UAE was Amiri Gandhi, who was named Entrepreneur of the Year, presented in association with Ccerebrate Business Consulting. Part-inventor, part-businesswoman, Gandhi set up the massive children’s edutainment facility called Kidz Factory in Abu Dhabi in 2014, which has now become a popular venue for children’s artc, entertainment and creativity.

Also taking centre stage in glittering ceremonies held to celebrate the 2017 edition of the Gulf Capital SME Awards was Nadeer Ali, Founder and Managing Director, Himatrix, who received the Business Leader of the Year award for successfully stirring his small enterprise into a highly-profitable business providing metrology and professional calibration services in the UAE and the rest of the GCC.

“We congratulate all the winners of this year’s edition of the Gulf Capital SME Awards. SMEs and entrepreneurship are key to ensuring economic growth, innovation and job creation in the region. In the UAE, SMEs make up 95 per cent of all enterprises, employ 42 per cent of the workforce and contribute more than 60 per cent to the country’s GDP.  SMEs are clearly the engine of growth for the local economy and we need to actively support and encourage them and celebrate their achievements. We are delighted to be supporting SMEs in the country and the awards for the sixth consecutive year,” says Karim el-Solh, CEO of Gulf Capital, one of the largest and most active alternative asset management firms in the Middle East and the headline sponsor of the awards.

Bait al-Kandora Gents Tailoring, one of the thousands of SMEs supported by the Khalifa Fund Enterprise for Development, was honoured with the Emirati Business of the Year award for its achievements in creating quality traditional menswear known for its style, craftsmanship and carrying with pride the national identity of the UAE.

Meanwhile, The Box Self Storage Services impressed this year’s judges and won the RSA Customer Focus of the Year award for providing an exceptional customer experience that contributed significantly to the company’s growth.

“This year’s winners represent not only a variety range of businesses, proving the UAE has truly become an economic success story, diversifying its economy effectively and becoming a powerhouse commercial hub in the region. It is also worth mentioning that our current crop of winners come from different emirates – Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah – which shows the entrepreneurial spirit is thriving throughout the UAE. We hope the other emirates will be represented in future editions of the awards,” says Becky Crayman, Programme Director, Awards and Managed Events, MEED, which organises the annual SME awards programme, held this year at The Westin Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, Dubai.

Other winners include TAGx Labs  (Business Innovation of the Year), Holidayme (Online Business of the Year), Linkviva (People and Culture of the Year), ISS Middle East (Small Business of the Year), Caramel and Sun (Start-up Business of the Year), Ecocoast Contracting (Sustainable Business of the Year), Souqalmal Insurance Aggregator (Disruption of the Year) and The Camel Soap Factory (Micro Business of the Year).

The awards programme’s jury panel also honoured some finalists with Highly Commended citations, including Abhishek Ajay Shah – RSA Logistics (Business Leader of the Year), Fruitful Day (Start-up Business of the Year), Place Dynamix (Sustainable Business of the Year), ‘Say Goodbye to the Billable Hour’ – the Launch of Support Legal (Disruption of the Year), Momentum Dubai (Small Business of the Year) and Stevi Lowmass, The Camel Soap Factory (Entrepreneur of the Year).

MEED’s SME awards programme is supported by endorsing partners Dubai SME and the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development as well as Headline Sponsor Gulf Capital; Gold Sponsor Ccerebrate Business Consulting and Category Sponsor, RSA Insurance. The full list of winners is available online here.