Middle East SMEs optimistic for a year of growth
Small and medium sized businesses across the Middle East are confident of growth over the next 12 months, according to a new survey.
The Mastercard Middle East and Africa (MEA) SME Confidence Index found that construction and manufacturing SMEs are the most optimistic when forecasting growth, with 76% predicting that revenues will either hold steady or see growth.
The research also found that 74% of the region’s SMEs in the retail, food and drink, and entertainment sectors predicted growth going forward.
The main causes for optimism among all firms surveyed were upgraded employee skills (56%), easier access to credit (56%) and better management information (52%). These three factors were identified as the main drivers of growth for SMEs in the Middle East & Africa region.
When it came to their concerns, 60% of SMEs said the rising costs of doing business over the next 12 months was their biggest worry. And 47% said access to capital was their greatest concern.
Some 47% of the region’s SMEs said they were also concerned with maintaining current staff levels; 44% said training and upskilling staff was a worry for them; 39% said finding the right talent was the most difficult challenge facing them; while 39% said mental and physical wellbeing was their greatest challenge.
The move to cash-free
With the move to cash-free online shopping growing apace, boosted by the pandemic, 48% of SMEs in construction and manufacturing said not having to process cash was the most helpful development for their business, while 47% cited more convenient payment of suppliers and employees.
Protecting the environment is now an increasing priority for SMEs, with 70% of businesses saying they will do more for the environment and 25% saying they would stop buying from non-sustainable businesses.
$250m to help SMEs
Mastercard is investingto help connect 50 million micro, small and medium-sized businesses across the world to the digital economy by 2025, with a specific goal to connect 25 million female entrepreneurs to the global digital economy.
Amnah Ajmal, Mastercard’s executive vice president, Market Development, Middle East and Africa, said: “As manufacturing and construction businesses continue to build back better through a combination of digital transformation and people development, they are also encouraging other SMEs in this sector.”
She added: “At Mastercard we look forward to a seamless continuation of supporting the SME ecosystem, providing the payments technology infrastructure and wider business solutions that will spur wide, inclusive growth of the digital economy.”