Dubai – MENA Herald: Expo 2020 Dubai has announced that 20% of the Expo’s total direct and indirect spend, representing more than Dh5 billion in contracts, will be allocated to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), both local and international. The landmark announcement is the latest in a series of SME-focused operational and legacy driven initiatives that have emerged as the result of Expo 2020 Dubai’s belief in the important role that SMEs have to play in contributing towards the effective and innovative delivery of an exceptional World Expo for both participants and visitors, as well as the UAE’s wider diversification efforts.

Commenting on the announcement, His Excellency Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy and Chairman of the UAE SME Council, said: “SMEs are already playing a central role in the UAE’s drive towards cultivating a thriving private sector and diversified economy, which makes SME empowerment a strategic priority for the Government. This effort is also aligned with the UAE Vision 2021 to transition to a knowledge-based economy that fosters creativity and innovation.”

HE Al Mansoori added that the UAE’s local and federal authorities are working closely together to further strengthen the local SME sector and provide entrepreneurs and SMEs with the support they need to fulfil their role in the economy. The minister also affirmed that the Government’s efforts are underpinned by Federal Law No 2 of 2014 on Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Projects, which allocates a minimum of 10 percent of all federal contracts to SMEs. The law also stipulates that companies in which the Federal Government owns a 25 percent stake must contract local SMEs for at least 5 percent of their total purchasing, servicing and consulting needs.

The UAE’s SME Council also continues to work with various stakeholders to identify the right mechanisms for SMEs to draw upon the financial facilities and business opportunities available within the UAE. SMEs represent almost 94 percent of the total number of companies operating in the UAE, with 400,000 SMEs contributing 60% to the nation’s GDP – a figure that is expected to increase to 70% by 2021.

According to Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General Bureau Expo Dubai 2020: “Expo 2020 Dubai acts as an enabler for SMEs and is constantly looking for opportunities to maximise their integration into the wider UAE economy. This is evident in the strong activity on our e-Sourcing Portal, where of the 6,196 suppliers registered, 2,418 are SMEs, and of the 787 contracts already awarded, 320 have been won by SMEs.

The integration of SMEs into the delivery of Expo 2020 Dubai is set to continue to stimulate employment, strengthen existing industries, improve SME competitiveness and ultimately contribute to sustainable economic growth. This will be an important part of Expo 2020 Dubai’s legacy for the UAE and wider region.”

This initiative complements the UAE’s efforts to support the local SME sector, and is a part of Expo 2020 Dubai’s ongoing interactions with the business community. These interactions include the recently concluded 10th edition of BusinessConnect, which invited members of the local, regional and international SME community to learn more about the opportunities for engagement with Expo 2020 Dubai, and to discuss the evolution of the procurement process to better enable their participation in the planning and delivery of the most inclusive event in World Expo history.

With the number of opportunities available for SMEs set to increase as a direct result of this initiative, all interested vendors and suppliers are encouraged to register on the Expo 2020 Dubai eSourcing portal

[https://esource.expo2020dubai.ae]. The portal serves as the primary gateway to the vast majority of Expo 2020 Dubai procurement operations. In addition to announcing upcoming tenders, the portal also details awarded packages relating to both goods and services, providing further possibilities for integration into the supply chain through indirect procurement and collaboration. It is also a valuable platform for registrants to receive information around upcoming knowledge-sharing and networking events, including the BusinessConnect series of workshops and seminars.

Her Excellency added: “The possibilities for SME participation in Expo 2020 Dubai are vast and extend far beyond the physical site and the six month duration of the event itself. From the needs of our 30,000 strong force of volunteers, to the services required by international participants developing self-built pavilions, and the transfer of knowledge in the legacy phase, we are committed to working with the most innovative businesses of all sizes, spreading the opportunity as far as possible and capturing the spirit of the event.”

The procurement process has also been modified to allow SMEs to bid more competitively, including a proposal validity of 60 days, no tender bonds required, no advanced payment guarantee required, 50% advanced payment for goods/materials, 25% advanced payment for services, and a commitment to 30 days’ payment from receipt of an approved invoice.