SMEs in the GCC to employ 22 million people by 2022

The Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector in the GCC region presents a potential of $920 billion with 156 per cent growth in the next five years, employing 22 million people, according to a new study by Mena Research Partners (MRP), a leading research company in the region.

While the GCC region accounts for only 34 per cent of the Mena SME sector, with around $360 billion per year, the equivalent of 26 per cent of gross domestic product, it has the largest potential for SMEs regionally, as it is growing from a relatively low base. The SME sector in Mena, a proxy of entrepreneurship according to MRP, is estimated at around $1 trillion per year. In the developing countries, the sector represents around 50 per cent of GDP.

“Most of this growth is expected to come from key geographies such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which are giving high priority to SMEs across many new regulations, policies and initiatives with the aim of boosting their share in the national economy. For example, in its Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has set a target to increase the share of SMEs in its GDP from a current 20 per cent to 35 per cent. The UAE, in its Vision 2021, set a target to increase the share of SMEs in its non-oil GDP from a current 60 per cent to 70 per cent,” said Anthony Hobeika, Chief Executive Officer at MENA Research Partners (MRP).

“SMEs are the main engine for job creation in the GCC region. Current SME employment is estimated at around 17 million people with a potential to reach 22 million in five years, a rise of around 30 per cent, or the equivalent of 55 per cent of the total active population,” Hobeika explained.


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