International banking heavyweight HSBC announced in a media statement that it has fully allocated its Dh1 billion ($275 million) UAE International Trade SME Fund, 2012.
Open to new and existing SME customers with cross-border trading requirements, the latest fund was the third tranche in HSBC UAE's flagship SME Fund program.
Speaking to businesses at the celebration of the close of the fund, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE's Minister for Foreign Trade, said: "There are many factors that make SMEs vital cogs in our long-term development plans. For one, they fully complement our successful diversification strategy which has transformed the UAE into the Middle East's most diversified economy. With our non-oil activities now accounting for more than 70 per cent of our GDP, SMEs are part of the equation in managing our hydrocarbon dependence.
"Also, family-run enterprises, which form the majority of businesses in the UAE, fall under the SME model.
"Moreover, the UAE is aiming to establish itself as a manufacturing hub for the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region. A lot of SMEs have become experts at areas such as industrial goods, chemicals, foodstuff, logistics and specialized contracting which are aligned with this ambitious goal.
"Given their importance, the UAE has been hard at work providing favorable regulatory and developmental frameworks and mechanisms for SMEs.
"It is my hope that others follow the lead of HSBC and the various government and private sector entities represented here tonight. Let us continue to work together to help SMEs push the envelope for a more productive economy that benefits all its stakeholders," said Sheikha Lubna.
In terms of allocation, 63 per cent of the fund has been allocated to customers who did not previously bank with HSBC. Approximately 50 per cent of the total fund was awarded to businesses in Abu Dhabi, 33 per cent to businesses in Dubai and 17 per cent to businesses in the Northern Emirates.
In line with HSBC's overall goal to assist businesses grow and trade across borders, 84 per cent of the fund went to companies actively seeking to flourish internationally.