Of the 100 finalists, chosen from an initial pool of 1,092 SMEs that registered, 62% are from the services sector, 13% operate in manufacturing and 25% belong to the trading sector. Fifteen percent are classified as micro SMEs, 52% as small SMEs and 33% as medium-sized SMEs.
The goal of the ranking, said Alexandar Williams, Director of the Strategy and Policy Division, is to foster a culture of development and competition amongst the SMEs, which account for 95% of the enterprises based in Dubai, 40% of Dubai's workforce and 42% of its annual GDP. The ranking is performance & development-driven, meaning it provides ranked SMEs an opportunity to know where they are, take steps to develop and improve their rankings eventually.
Yet the DubaiSME 100 ranking is not simply based on financial value.
"We rank companies based on financial and non-financial information, including criteria for innovation, human capital development, and international orientation," says Williams. "We use what we call a '3- I' approach: we look at the intent, the initiative, and the impact. Those that rank high are constantly developing innovative new products and services, have a global mindset, and focus on getting talented people on board."
Companies must have audited financial statements for at least three years, and be an independent entity registered in Dubai (under DED or the Free Zones). Beyond that, ranking is a matter of weighing the various factors.
"You could say it was a labor of love. We went to the offices of these companies and conducted grueling management interviews to assess leadership, strategy and vision, and then went to their factories and offices to understand their operations. We did our homework," says Williams.
This thoroughness is not just a courtesy to small businesses; it ensures that the ranking is a solid resource for investors looking for new opportunities. Post-financial crisis, many investors are looking to diversify their portfolios, from a prior focus on construction and real estate, towards investment in high potential SMEs, says Williams.
To encourage deal flow, the DubaiSME 100 will debut an SME 100 Investor Forum soon. The ranking organization will also help companies by informing them of opportunities to seek external capital through platforms such as NASDAQ Dubai, whose new listing criteria allow smaller companies.
Beyond that, DubaiSME also plans to organize relevant seminars and workshops that will help companies grow and raise further capital, while raising their profile and equity valueby adding them to larger international lists like the GCC 100, which is part of the Arabia 500 ranking.
The DubaiSME 100 companies, which are growing at an annual average growth rate of 30-50%, will serve as a model and example of the broader SME community, says Williams.
"I cannot reach all of the SMEs in Dubai. We use the SME 100 as a tool to reach out to the 72,000 SMEs in Dubai, telling the stories of those that are making a difference" he says. "Entrepreneurs listen to entrepreneurs. Once they hear these stories, inspiration takes on its own power."
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