Mastercard SME Confidence Index: 80% of UAE SMEs project similar or increased revenue in 2023

September 25, 2023 | Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Future growth will be driven by digitizing businesses, omnichannel payments, upskilling, data, analytics and insights
  • More than half of UAE SMEs concerned about the rising cost of doing business


Dubai, UAE; 25 September 2023 – From surviving to thriving in the post-COVID world, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UAE are optimistic about the rest of 2023. These are the findings of the second edition of the Mastercard Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EEMEA) SME Confidence Index.

The inaugural SME Confidence Index delved into the impact of the pandemic on SMEs across sectors, products, and services, and how they are embracing a digital future. As a continuation, the second edition of the survey has revealed that small businesses in the UAE are confident about business growth, with omnichannel payments presenting the biggest opportunity.

As companies recover from the pandemic and return to the growth phase, the research shows that 80% of SMEs in the UAE project similar or increased revenue in 2023.

“This year’s SME Confidence Index highlights the rising importance of omnichannel payments for small businesses in the UAE, and an optimism reflecting the wealth of opportunities available to SMEs in the market. Mastercard is empowering SMEs to grow digitally and expand their access to a wide variety of innovative payment options and resources that meet their evolving needs and that of their customers. By supporting small businesses, we aim to boost their vital contribution to sustained economic growth,” said J.K. Khalil, Cluster General Manager, MENA East, Mastercard.  

SMEs in the UAE are optimistic about the future

Almost three-quarters of the country’s SMEs are confident about business growth this year as compared to 2022.

To further optimize growth, the survey highlights top areas for support required by SMEs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) – training and upskilling staff (93%), access to a wider range of financial services (92%) and better telco infrastructure (91%). Other areas of support include better data and insights and mentoring by industry experts.

To support SMEs in navigating this journey, Mastercard Academy’s ‘The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey’ – a first-of-its kind digital education platform – was launched to bring together a range of world-class academic and business resources to help small businesses learn and thrive. Mastercard has also partnered with Women Choice, an international organization dedicated to advancing women’s personal and professional development, to support the creation of one million jobs for women across MENA, while supporting economic growth and development in the region.

Earlier this year, Mastercard also partnered with Tradeling, the MENA region’s dominant e-marketplace that focuses on business-to-business (B2B) transactions, to offer several benefits to SMEs in the UAE to help deepen access to the digital economy.

Access to omnichannel payment services among top drivers of growth

SMEs in the UAE have identified accepting omnichannel digital payments (92%), training and upskilling staff (91%), digitizing business operations (90%) and better data, analytics and insights (90%) as the main drivers of growth.

Adoption of digital payment solutions is on the rise in the UAE, with 88% of consumers in the region having used at least one emerging payment method in the last year.

Mastercard works as a trusted partner of the country’s government in enabling small businesses to go digital, driving economic equality and inclusive prosperity. The company has pledged to connect 50 million SMEs worldwide to the digital economy by 2025. 

More than half of SMEs in the UAE are conscious of the rising cost of doing business

As markets navigate an increasingly dynamic economic landscape, SMEs in the UAE continue to face several challenges. Over 42% of SMEs surveyed in the UAE find insufficient access to credit as a difficulty to growth and 65% believe that the cost of goods and services is rising, with 65% of SMEs still feeling the lingering fallout of the pandemic (66%). Over 61% of SMEs think these are significant contributors to the rising cost of doing business.

As the UAE economy continues to evolve and grow, Mastercard partners with diverse partners to provide solutions that help small business, especially start-ups, scale and grow despite the challenges. In April this year, the DIFC Launchpad program in partnership with Mastercard was launched to focus on creating new payment solutions and digital services. The program supports the launch of more than 200 new ventures, with over 100 of them being scale-ups that will collectively create over 8,000 new jobs and attract over $544 million in venture capital.

Mastercard leverages its extensive network, state-of-the-art technology, and global partnerships to help SMEs to adapt to changing commercial environments and new spending patterns. The company works with governments and the private sector to build synergies that advance financial inclusion and motivates consumers and merchants to support small businesses.

About Mastercard (NYSE: MA)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.

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