Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: The National Bank of Abu Dhabi) NBAD( in collaboration with CPI Media Group has completed the pilot phase of its SME training programme, the NBAD SME Academy. Since its launch in September 2015, the NBAD SME Academy has offered essential skills training to over 500 small and medium enterprises (SME) executives in the UAE.

A survey distributed after the close of the programme found that 50% of delegates believed that the workshop they attended immediately helped towards improving their business, while 52% reported implementing something differently in their business as a result of attending a workshop. The survey also revealed that 59% of attendees look forward to seeing more advanced content in future SME Academy workshops, and 82% want long-term engagement with the academy after their sessions.

Abdulla Al Otaiba, Senior Managing Director & Group Head of Global Retail & Commercial at NBAD, said: “SMEs have a critical role to play in the development of the UAE and supporting these businesses is central to NBAD’s business and citizenship strategy. It is widely known that the two main inhibitors of SME growth are a lack of capital and insufficient skills. We are already actively providing capital to businesses across the UAE and now, through the NBAD SME Academy, we are providing the necessary skills for growth. A thriving and confident SME sector is essential to the nation’s prosperity and economic resilience and NBAD is playing an important role in nurturing that success.”

The NBAD SME Academy was established in the UAE last year to help small businesses address skills gaps and improve the bankability of their projects. The programme offers a cost-free series of skills-building workshops focused on practical training for revenue-generating businesses on the critical path to growth. The pilot programme provided sessions ranging from finance to marketing, welcoming guest speakers from Moody’s, the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA), Hawkamah, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers and concluded with a presentation by world-renowned customer service expert Ron Kaufman. Presenting to the attendees of the final skills building workshop, customer service expert Ron Kaufman emphasised to the audience that businesses of all sizes must be open to change, and tuned in to their customers’ needs in order to thrive.

Mr. Kaufman, said: “Service is taking action to create value for someone else. It is a mindset, a lifestyle, something you must live and breathe. The NBAD SME Academy is a fabulous initiative and I’ve been hugely impressed with the professionalism of the executives taking part in the workshop today. Through this academy, business leaders across the UAE have been given the opportunity to grow their skills and develop a better understanding of changing market needs, and the necessary actions to create value for customers.”

The SME Academy is a key component of NBAD’s citizenship strategy, aimed at creating a greater economic and social value for the business community in the region and the people of the UAE. In emerging markets, research has shown that typically SMEs generate revenue and GDP six times faster than larger businesses, and create jobs four times faster. SMEs account for more than 60 per cent of the gross domestic product of the UAE and, according to UAE Ministry of Economy, SMEs account for 86 per cent of the workforce in the private sector. Over 300,000 companies can be classified as part of the SME sector in the UAE.

The 2016 NBAD SME Academy will begin in September and aims to attract and train over 600 SMEs from across the UAE.