The Emirates Development Bank (EDB), the key financial engine of the UAE’s economic diversification and industrial transformation agenda, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Hamriyah Free Zone in Sharjah and the Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIFZONE) to provide financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups operating in either of the free zones.
The MoU was signed yesterday at SAIFZONE headquarters in Sharjah by His Excellency Saud Salim Al Mazrouei, Director of Hamriyah Free Zone and SAIFZONE, and Ahmed Mohamed Al Naqbi, Chief Executive Officer of EDB. The MoU reflects the shared commitment to developing a supportive environment for business and accelerating the UAE’s economic diversification agenda by championing pioneering projects and emerging industries.
Under the MoU, EDB will offer its range of flexible financial solutions to SMEs and start-ups in Hamriyah Free Zone and SAIFZONE, including capex financing for expansion or facility upgrades, greenfield and brownfield project finance, and financial support for the integration of Industry 4.0 technologies or clean energy transition.
A Significant Step
His Excellency Saud Salim Al Mazrouei said, “EDB’s support for companies within the Hamriyah Free Zone and SAIFZONE will provide a significant boost to Sharjah’s economic diversification efforts, encouraging entrepreneurship and enabling a new generation of businesses to scale and grow. The MoU also unlocks new financing potential for companies seeking to open operations in Sharjah, complementing existing initiatives in both free zones to enhance SMEs’ contribution to the local economy through facilities, advice and networking.”
Al Mazrouei noted that the Emirates Development Bank is an important national institution, providing financing and sustainable banking solutions for a critical segment of the national economy. “The MoU is a testament to our joint efforts to nurture an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sharjah. We are both deeply committed to helping emerging companies in our free zones expand their businesses and, as a result, contribute to the sustainable economic growth of the UAE.”
Supporting emerging businesses
For his part, Ahmed Mohamed Al Naqbi said, “In line with our strategy to support the UAE’s economic diversification and industrial transformation agenda, EDB is helping to enhance the bankability of SMEs, start-ups and innovative projects launched by younger entrepreneurs across the country. Our goal is to facilitate their access to our range of financial services, enabling them to develop and expand their businesses, develop new economic sectors – especially those based on advanced technologies – and support sustainable economic development.”
Al Naqbi noted that the MoU with two of Sharjah’s leading freezones reflects EDB’s policy of developing and then utilizing nationwide partnerships to achieve their objectives. This agreement will increase the bank’s pipeline of projects, helping them to identity promising companies that will benefit from financial support such as capex investment and credit guarantees, or non-financial services such as business advisory services, coaching, consulting, mentoring, and market research. Both parties also discussed the possibility of arranging webinars and roadshows to familiarize companies operating in the free zones with the financing facilities offered by EDB.
He added: “EDB’s objective is to maximize its economic impact on the economy of the UAE. Our financial solutions are offered with high loan-to-value ratios with competitive rates, long tenors and grace periods, especially for companies that rate highly on our Development Impact Scorecard – which we developed to support projects that have a significant impact on the national economy. We are also enhancing bankability of this crucial sector through our digital banking app, which provides a bank account with an IBAN number in less than 48 hours, offering round-the-clock secure and convenient banking services without minimum balance.”
Emirates Development Bank has set a target to deploy AED30 billion of financing support to 13,500 companies within five priority sectors by 2026. EDB works in partnership with the UAE’s commercial banks, supporting projects that offer substantial developmental benefits for the wider economy by assessing economic development impact criteria on top of the standard risk and profit calculations undertaken by commercial banks.