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Wednesday, Apr 14, 2021

One million Small and Medium Businesses across the Middle East and Africa to benefit from free resources and special offers

One million Small and Medium Businesses across the Middle East and Africa to benefit from free resources and special offers

Empower, educate and engage the world around you: Alliance of leading companies to support SME sector to digitize and adapt given its critical importance to jobs and economies.
Dubai, UAE, 16 March 2021: A new private sector initiative launching today will provide help to hundreds of thousands of small to medium enterprises in digitizing their sales and operations throughout the Middle East and Africa. Led by the social enterprise Potential.com, the campaign brings together a number of global organizations including Aramex, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco, Schneider Electric and the World Free Zone Organization who will offer small to medium business owners free resources, advice and services that’ll help them adapt to a post-pandemic economy.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the cornerstone of economies throughout the world,
accounting for over 90 percent of all businesses and providing a major source of new job creation according to the Internationa Monetary Fund. In Saudi Arabia as an example, SMEs constitute up to 99 percent of all private businesses, account for 64 percent of employment and contribute 20 percent of the Kingdom’s gross domestic product. While in in South Africa, SMEs account for 91% of businesses, 60% of employment and contribute 52% of total GDP.
“SMEs are the lifeblood of economies, and we need to step up and support them,” said Shadi Banna, Founder and CEO, Potential.com. “Last year transformed economies, with every business prioritizing digitization efforts. Through our collaboration with leading organisations, we’re here to support the SME do just that. Our goal is to empower over one million businesses in the first twelve months of this initiative, and I encourage more firms and governments to get involved. The more we do now, the stronger our economies will be and the greater the opportunity for job creation in the months and years ahead.”

SMEs can join the platform for free and use video-based courses to help them create their digitization action plans whilst collecting points. These points allow them to unlock special offers, including free expert sessions on topics that are relevant to them and their industries, as well as additional resources to help them reduce costs and improve their digital systems. The program will also help SMEs to network with their peers in a pan-regional online community, to support greater peer-to-peer collaboration and make the sharing of advice simpler.

Faris Muqdadi, Global Director - Transactional Account Management at Aramex, said: “At Aramex, we recognize the importance of supporting and empowering SMEs to create their own opportunities. Therefore, we have been very keen since inception to facilitate access to various logistical services and solutions for SMEs from different industries so that we actively contribute to their growth and development process, and help them compete not only locally, but at a global scale. We look forward to keep contributing to the prosperity of this integral sector which will be reflected positively to the overall economy.”

Vinod Krishnan, Head of Middle East, Amazon Web Services (AWS), said, “SMEs and startups play an important role in driving innovative solutions and closing the gap for the region’s digital needs. In light of the pandemic, ensuring that this segment of the economy remains resilient and is setup for future growth is critical. Through Potential.com's initiative, we look forward to supporting startups with the AWS Activate program to help them realize the full benefits of cloud computing. AWS Activate provides a variety of resources including AWS credits, trainings, and mentorship, as well as business and technical support to help companies scale and grow.”

“SMEs play a vital role in developing our national economies, be it job creation, adding competition to the marketplace or driving innovation. Ensuring their success remains a not only an ideal, but in fact, our collective duty. When devising or evolving one’s digital transformation agenda, access to the right counsel and resources are key. Through this initiative, we are pleased to be playing our role, accelerating support and potential growth outcomes for the region’s SMEs,” said Hani Raad, Managing Director of SME at Cisco Middle East and Africa.

“SMEs are the fundamental driver of economies throughout the region, and we want to play our part in helping them become both more digital and also more sustainable,” said Remi Pages, Services Vice President Middle East and Africa at Schneider Electric. “ We at Schneider Electric see ourselves as an enabler, especially in the space of energy efficiency and automation. We’re looking forward to working with Potential.com and all the other organizations in this partnership to help SMEs become stronger, so they can play their role in a green economic recovery.”

To help in reaching out to the SMEs, the alliance will be partnering with governments, chambers and multilateral organizations such as World Free Zone Organization to bring the program to various communities across the world.

“As the global association for Free Zones, we recognize the importance of SMEs as the backbone of any economy and as a vital part of the Free Zone ecosystem. With more than 3 million SMEs located in Free Zones one of our early mandates has always been the sharing of knowledge, experience, and administrative skills as well as collaboration to encourage global investment and trade expansion, by transforming free zones into hubs for entrepreneurs. By taking part in this initiative, we take one more important step towards giving them the right tools to grow and make meaningful contributions to their local economies.” – said Dr Samir Hamrouni, CEO, World Free Zone Organization.

Over the coming months, as governments join this effort, the platform will be customised for individual countries and sectors to align with the priorities and support programs available in those countries.
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