EDB Partners Reinforce Bank’s Strategic Role in UAE’s economic diversification and industrial transformation agenda

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Through its range of financial and non-financial solutions, EDB is supporting SMEs and large corporates across priority industries sectors

Emirates Development Bank has, in the last 12 months, remade itself. In April 2021, EDB launched a new strategy to become the key financial engine of the UAE government’s industrial and economic diversification agenda, with a revised mandate to empower SMEs and large corporates in the priority sectors of manufacturing, technology, healthcare, infrastructure and food security, as well as facilitate the adoption of advanced technology and promote innovation.

A key priority of these efforts has been to enhance the bankability of SMEs, which are the lifeblood of the UAE’s industrial sector. EDB supports projects that have significant developmental impact on the country’s economy. EDB offers eligible projects more flexible terms, including interest grace periods, longer tenors, lower financing costs and higher loan-to-value ratios.

EDB also entered into strategic partnerships with nine commercial banks to provide SMEs credit guarantees worth AED332 million, and launched the Sanad initiative, which has allocated AED100 million to support the recovery of Emirati-owned businesses following the impact of Covid-19.

For large companies and SMEs operating in the five priority sectors, EDB offers flexible direct and indirect financing solutions. These include capex financing for expansion or facility upgrades, greenfield and brownfield project financing, and financial support for the integration of Industry 4.0 technologies, digitization of operations and investments into alternative, renewable or clean energy sources. To ensure EDB’s support achieves the maximum economic impact, the bank utilizes a proprietary “Developmental Impact Scorecard” to assess a project or company’s potential contribution to areas such as GDP, job growth, in-country value and the deployment of advanced technology.

Since the launch of the strategy, these efforts have resulted in support for more than 1,350 SMEs, the approval of AED1.52 billion in loans to companies key sectors and, ultimately, a contribution of AED1.91 billion to national GDP.

In September 2021, the bank launched a new digital banking platform that offers entrepreneurs, start-ups and small-business owners access to secure, comprehensive, round-the-clock banking services, leading to more than 1,000 new accounts being opened within its first six months of operation.

Commenting on these developments, Ahmed Mohamed Al Naqbi, Chief Executive Officer of EDB, said that its new strategy is enabling the bank to play a strategic role in the long-term, sustainable growth of the UAE. “Through its new strategy, EDB aims to accelerate the UAE’s industrial growth in line with the vision of the country’s wise leadership. Supporting large corporates and SMEs operating in the five key sectors is a top priority to maximize the bank’s economic impact. Boosting the bankability of the SMEs and startups is also critical to the UAE’s economic prosperity, and we are already seeing the benefits through the additional contribution to GDP.”

Al Naqbi added, “EDB supports projects that have a developmental impact on the economy– playing a vital role in bringing the UAE’s economic diversification plans to fruition. This is being achieved through a range of structured financial solutions, which include flexible terms, interest grace periods, longer tenors, lower financing costs and higher loan-to-value ratios. When combined, these initiatives will drive industrial growth in the UAE in the next 50 years and beyond.”

EDB’s new services have been welcomed by both partners and customers, revealing a clear demand in the market for flexible and accessible financial support across the UAE’s industrial sector and SME community

His Excellency Mohammed Helal Al Mheiri, Director General of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, noted that the UAE has one of the fastest-growing and most advanced economies in the world and that the kind of support EDB now provides is needed to keep pace with its ambitions.

“The contributions of the Emirates Development Bank to our national economy since the launch of its strategy last year are a true testament to the active and key role of our national institutions in realizing the ambitions of our wise leadership in the UAE,” he said. “We, as strategic partners with the EDB, are very proud of the bank’s outstanding achievements in diversifying the economy by utilizing all the bank’s resources to attract businesses to the UAE.”

His Excellency Rashed Abdulkarim Al Blooshi, Undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), underlined the importance of the EDB to its objectives to support the private sector. “We are proud to partner with Emirates Development Bank (EDB) to deliver the strategic objectives of the UAE as we share similar values and goals,” he commented. “Since the launch of EDB’s new strategy, our cooperation has been going from strength to strength and we have joined forces as part of our plans to ensure ease of doing business for investors. The bank’s online facilities were among the first to be integrated into our ‘Investor Journey’ online platform, which allows business owners to easily apply for bank accounts. We also cooperate in initiatives related to SME support and industrial transformation in line with the overall Abu Dhabi and UAE economic diversification strategy.”

His Excellency Engineer Ali AlSuwaidi, Director General of Ajman Free Zone, said: “The bank’s financing solutions and other exclusive support add value to SMEs registered with us at Ajman Free Zone. Moreover, as a result of our cooperation, various businesses operating within our community have been given access to its wide range of products and services, with a positive impact on their development. We are proud to have chosen EDB as one of our strategic partners, and we appreciate its support.”

Dr. Bernd van Linder, Chief Executive Officer at Commercial Bank of Dubai, noted how EDB has made significant contributions to the industrial sector by providing both financial and non-financial support to growing firms. “Since its inception, Emirates Development Bank (EDB) has played a vital role in the UAE’s economic diversification and industrial transformation agenda. EDB has contributed significantly to the nation’s economic growth, especially in the industrial sector, and in realizing the UAE’s aspirations, by providing the necessary financial and non-financial support to SMEs and large corporations in key industrial sectors.”

“We look forward to this pioneering institution continuing its active support to the UAE’s economic diversification and global competitiveness,” he added.

According to Adnan Al Awadhi, Chief Executive Officer of the National Bank of Umm Al Quwain, EDB’s initiatives are supporting the growth of both UAE national and expat-owned businesses in priority sectors, enhancing the UAE’s attractiveness to innovative companies and entrepreneurs. He said that the strategy has helped to make the UAE a desirable market for “foreign investors and business owners”, ultimately “supporting the new phase in the national economy that is based on creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and the growth of small and medium size companies”.

One of the entities that benefitted from EDB support in 2021 is AstraGene, the Middle East’s first molecular diagnostics manufacturing company. EDB provided structured financing that enabled them to set up their facility in Dubai Science Park to manufacture and distribute in-vitro diagnostic reagents, kits and instruments. According to Palat K Menon, Founder and CEO of AstraGene, the bank proved essential in helping his company to not only launch but swiftly scale up and expand. “Unlike conventional banks, EDB’s customer relationship team work hard to understand their customers and their needs, and then assist them to the best of their abilities. EDB enabled us to transform our idea into a viable business,” he said.

Fayek Abukhadra, Deputy General Manager, United Medical Industries Co. Ltd (UNIMED), echoed those sentiments, “Unimed is always looking for strategic partners to assist in growing its markets and its footprint. It is important for us to build strategic partnerships to assist us in achieving our global expansion. As a key financial engine of the UAE, EDB has helped us not only find financial solutions but, by developing personal relationships with us and our team, has also helped us to find our place in the local market. Unimed takes pride that our products are made in the UAE and will be exported into other markets regionally and globally.”

It has been a year of transformation for EBD – and it’s one that is helping to fuel both the economic recovery and the long-term growth, competitiveness and resilience of the UAE’s economy. By supporting SMEs and large corporates in priority sectors with flexible financial solutions and instant access to digital banking services, EDB is plugging a hugely important gap in the market and, in doing so, fast-forwarding the nation’s industrial ambitions.