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UAE: Dh500m VC Fund Being planned for Entrepreneurs

Shaikh Khalifa Fund for SME Development is in the initial stages of setting up a venture capital fund of a size ranging between Dh300-500 million, to provide equity to entrepreneurs.

"It is still in early stages of being set up but would change the course of SMEs in the emirate, said Hussain Jasim Al Nowais, chairman General Holding Corporation and chairman of Khalifa Fund for SME Development, while speaking to reporters, after opening a two-day conference on Private Equity: Catalyst to Economic Growth.

Al Nowais said that according to the concept, banks, insurance companies, and other institutions would take stake in the proposed venture capital fund, to provide an equity component to boost the SMEs.

The Khalifa Fund for the SME Development, launched two years ago, is a Dh100 million fund, which provides financing at cheap interest rates. Up to Dh1 million it charges zero per cent interest while for loans up to Dh5 million it charges one per cent, as an incentive for the development of the SME sector and to boost industrial activity.

On his concerns regarding the economy, Al Nowais, who is also a member of Abu Dhabi Economic Council said that "Sometimes, I wonder if we are going bit fast in developing mega projects, as the prices of steel, cement and other raw material have gone up, because fast paced development brings inflation."

To a question, on what Abu Dhabi has learnt from Dubai's success story, Hussian Al Nowais said that the focus has been on physical infrastructure, to accommodate tomorrows expansion needs. Other things taken care of are the efficient public transport system, and measures against traffic jams and pollution.

Abu Dhabi has already overhauled its rules and regulations in line with its ambitions of becoming an investor- friendly destination.

When asked on the business environment, Al Nowais said that a number of regulations have been introduced to ease out the obstacles in the way of setting up new businesses. "All permissions and licences from government departments to start new businesses are granted in a day. Two years ago, it used to take up to a couple of weeks," he said.

Regarding the new company's law, he disclosed that it will be introduced by the year end. It will bring further improvements in the business environment as matters relating to ownership of foreign companies would be decided.

Giving his personal view, he said that if a foreign company adds value to the UAE economy, bring technology, or transfer technology, there should be no issues with its ownership. (via Khaleej Times)

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