NBAD launches SME Academy to support UAE business growth

National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) has launched a free, business skills academy with the purpose of driving growth in the SME sector. Since its launch in September 2015, over 100 small medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UAE have benefitted from essential skills training from the NBAD SME Academy.  

Commenting on the NBAD SME Academy, Alex Thursby, Group CEO of NBAD said: “SMEs represent one of the most important components of the UAE’s future growth—that’s why we take the task of nurturing these businesses very seriously. For SMEs to succeed, the two fundamental requirements are access to finance, and well-developed business skills. We, at NBAD, have been financing the growth of SME’s for many years and currently serve over 27,000 small and medium-sized enterprises across the region. Through the NBAD SME Academy, we can now help these businesses develop the vital skills they need to continue on their path of growth and success in their endeavours.”

The NBAD SME Academy, which was launched in partnership with CPI as a pilot programme in September 2015, provides a series of free Skills Based Workshops, which will focus on helping SMEs, develop fundamental skills to succeed, such as how to become bankable. The Skills Building Workshops are being delivered by expert institutions, including Moody’s Analytics, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Ron Kaufman and Hawkamah - the Institute for Corporate Governance. Upon successful completion of each Skills Building Workshop, participating SMEs receive a Certificate of Completion, which will serve as an additional credential for their business.

The pilot programme is focused on the following areas: How to Make your Business Bankable; Understanding and Implementing Principles of Accountancy; Understanding Corporate Governance; Attaining Leadership in Customer Service; and Expansion and Growth – Key Strategies.

As per the NBAD SME Academy feedback survey, the programme has so far received a positive response, with 98% of delegates finding the sessions helpful to their business objectives. So far, the majority of participants that attended the pilot programme said that they joined the NBAD SME Academy to learn how they can better improve trade relationships with international and government companies, increase their company turnover, profitability, expansion into new markets and become key players in their industry. Of those who have attended the Skills Building Workshops, so far, 23% of delegates came from the Manufacturing sector, 21% came from the Media sector, 15% came from Consultancy businesses, 11% of delegates represented businesses focused on Trading and the remainder were from businesses focused on Education, Finance, Construction and IT. 41% of delegates in attendance represented businesses that had been trading for between 1-5 years, 33% came from businesses which had been trading for 6-11 years and the remainder came from businesses which had been trading for over 12 years.

SMEs and entrepreneurs in the UAE play a critical role in the government’s vision to diversify and grow the economy. Currently, SMEs constitute 94% of companies operating in the UAE, and contribute around 60% of the country's GDP. In addition, A.T. Kearney, a global management consultancy estimates that the SME sector has the potential to add $100 billion to the GDP of the GCC and to generate up to 2 million jobs in the GCC region in the coming years.

In addition to the NBAD SME Academy and as part of the bank’s ongoing efforts to support SMEs, NBAD for the second year in a row is the Presenting Partner of the SME Beyond Borders Summit and Stars of Business Awards. The summit and awards programme are considered to be the leading platforms to gather and recognise the best minds in business across the Middle East.

For more information on the NBAD SME Academy, please visit:
For more information on the SME Beyond Borders, please visit:
For more information on the Stars of Business awards, please visit:

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