August 30th, 2018, Dubai (UAE): The Dubai Business Women Council, in collaboration with the Pearl Initiative, a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting accountability and transparency in the Gulf Region, held a roundtable to discuss corporate governance of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) across the Gulf Region. The roundtable was organised by the Pearl Initiative and hosted by the Dubai Business Women Council at the headquarters of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in the presence of 62 business leaders representing a variety of companies in Dubai.
The roundtable event, entitled “Accessing Capital: Is Your Business Ready?”, was held to promote the discussion around corporate governance practices and assess their impact on the operation and success of MSMEs. The event aimed to encourage companies to introduce and incorporate corporate governance best practices with the objective of increasing their competitiveness. The collaboration on this roundtable comes as part of the Council’s effort to educate its members on the most prominent topics that support the development of their professional skills and expertise, and to increase their awareness of the best global practices in the business sector.
The panelists at the session included Huda Al Lawati, Chief Investment Officer of Savola Group; Nadine Mezher, Co-founder and CMO of Sarwa; and Padmini Gupta, Co-founder and CEO of rise. The panelists were able to provide insight about corporate governance practices, and how they form an integral foundation for attracting investors, which can enable long-term sustainable business growth. They also discussed how these practices can contribute towards building investor confidence, while also focusing on specific tools of relevance for Gulf MSMEs in particular.
According to a recent report by the Pearl Initiative, titled “Enhancing Gulf Business Competitiveness”, MSMEs face critical issues across their business cycle, including: difficulties finding funding, overreliance on certain individuals, difficulties retaining talented staff, and the lack of time needed to focus on critical business matters. Corporate governance practices are an important tool in overcoming these challenges and can provide assurance to stakeholders and investors that a business is really thinking about how they can boost their competitive survival and growth.
Nadine Halabi, Business Development Manager at the Dubai Business Women Council, pointed out that the Dubai Business Women Council, in cooperation with a variety of regional and global institutions and entities, takes both the needs of its members and the professional requirements of the workplace into consideration when selecting the topics for its workshops and seminars. She stated that the council picks topics that equip its members with the knowledge and expertise required to enhance their competitiveness and to develop their growth and their performance in the workplace.
Halabi indicated that the roundtable discussion is an effective way to support business leaders who represent MSMEs find solutions to the challenges that they face. She also maintained that sound corporate governance practices represent a solution to many of the challenges that face the business community in the Emirate.
Carla Koffel, Executive Director of the Pearl Initiative, stated: “Small businesses sometimes feel as though corporate governance is too advanced for them, or simply not worth the time when there are other business matters that are more of a priority. However, good governance is a strong and effective foundation for success, especially in MSMEs where there are competing business interests to manage. At the Pearl Initiative, we encourage small businesses to use governance to strengthen their business, which in turn strengthens local economies.”
The research published by the Pearl Initiative also indicated that 76% of the Gulf MSMEs are looking to expand over the next one to two years, but only 26% of them have enough capital to do so. MSMEs that introduce and apply good corporate governance practices will have more opportunities and better chances of securing funding, in turn, allowing them to expand their activities and reach their goals.
The collaboration between Dubai Business Women Council and the Pearl Initiative stems from our shared mission to organise workshops and events that enhance the competitiveness of businesses operating in Dubai and the wider Gulf Region. This roundtable is the second event co-hosted by Pearl Initiative and Dubai Business Women’s Council, who also plan to host a series of MSME workshop later this year.