There is no denying that Covid 19 temporarily paralysed businesses globally. Most deeply affected were the SMEs. Hit first and hardest by employee illness and cash-flow predicaments many SMEs struggled. Over a year into the pandemic, despite the worldwide grip the virus still has on us all, the UAE is proving to be a pioneer of survival, not just from a health perspective -but also from a business one.  Like the UAE, the local SMEs we see thriving are doing so because they are proactive, agile, innovative, strategic, and thoughtful.

Omni-channel has taken on a new meaning. Businesses have worked on providing their services at home and in the office. In lock-down or out. In-person or virtually. Always mindful of safety and well-being. A grueling fitness class with a health expert in your living room - via zoom, monitoring your heart rate remotely plugged into your new wearable. A backyard wedding/birthday supported by suppliers who have worked out how to decorate your house without being there! Unable to travel, SMEs have seized opportunities to curate and deliver 'zoom-boxes' and care packages not just locally but internationally too. With education under pressure, more onus on parents, and protecting the community at the heart of decision-making, learning and development has been revolutionised by creative and passionate local educators supplying home kits for toddlers to teens. The list is truly inspiring!

Powering every change is a brave business owner supported by a passionate team. Often bridging cash-flow gaps with personal savings, always making difficult choices, re-contracting suppliers, and re-modeling their proposition.

The pandemic has proven that having a strategy and being prepared to innovate are keys to managing a crisis. Our programme for 2021 aspires to offer SMEs a framework on which to build strategy and thought-provoking insights to spark innovation. Our series of activities aims to help SMEs plan and mobilise sustainable, safe practices as well as look forward to a decade of future success.

SMEs remain pivotal to the continued diversification of the economy in the Middle East. Crucial to the development of a knowledge economy, SMEs will continue to add in-country value through job creation and the development of talent pools. 2021 will be another year of continued change as consumer demands evolve, technology drives solutions and the pandemic continues to put downward pressure on finances.

MEED's programme of activity brought to you in partnership with founding partners Gulf Capital will provide a suite of learning opportunities, networking engagements, and chances to showcase your business to potential partners and investors. Our community of partners and industry experts are primed to lead the way, share their learnings, and deliberate ideas to help support the SME community through the next decade of success.