Middle East SMEs need more support from banks, private sector, says PayTabs CEO

Abdulaziz Al Jouf says there has been 'massive' change in regional support towards SMEs, but that there remains much more to be done
AbdulAziz Aljouf, CEO of Saudi-based digital payment solutions company PayTabs.
By Lubna Hamdan
Tue 05 Jun 2018 10:15 AM

SMEs in the MENA region require additional support from private and banking sectors, as opposed to governments, according to the CEO of Saudi-based digital payment solutions company PayTabs.

Speaking to Arabian Business, Abdulaziz Al Jouf said there is not enough backing and funding for regional SMEs.

“We are not expecting governments to change. We are expecting the layers after the government - the private sectors, the banking industry - to change. And that is hard to do because they always think that SMEs are competing with them,” he said.

Al Jouf went on to compare SMEs to small fish and private companies to bigger fish that have two options: to eat the smaller players or help grow them.

“We need to support SMEs financially and mentally through coaching and mentoring, because that is what will create the ecosystem,” he said.

PayTabs, which launched in 2014 and remains an SME company, will ‘demand more’ from both sectors, Al Jouf said.

“When you go to banks and you tell them you’re an SME, they tell you their SME fund [serves those in the] $50m category. Give me a break. Come on,” he said.

While there has been ‘massive’ change in regional support towards SMEs, according to Al Jouf, there remains much to be done.

“There’s a lot of hype about supporting SMEs, and there is - we can’t neglect the support we have seen in the last three years especially, which have seen massive change in the region and globally - but I believe there is much more to be done,” he said.

SMEs in the GCC alone are expected to grow 156% over the next five years, with the sector set to be worth $920 billion, according to a 2017 study by MENA Research Partners.

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Last Updated: Wed 06 Jun 2018 10:26 AM GST

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