New Middle East fund backing entrepreneurs, small businesses begins fundraising


A new private equity fund aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship in the United Arab Emirates is due to be launched by the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development and the National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

The Imtiyaz SME Development Fund is targeting $136m of commitments, and has already received about $21m in matching investments from its creators.

Both parties said they expected strong support from Government-related entities, large corporations and institutional investors in the form of capital commitments and other help with identifying investment opportunities.

KFED chief executive Abdullah Al Darmaki and his NBAD counterpart Michael Tomalin have signed a memorandum of understanding at the bank’s head office ahead of launching the fund.

Al Darmaki said, “Our partnership with NBAD to launch the Imtiyaz SME Development Fund will build on KFED’s commitment towards promoting Emirati entrepreneurial activity, encouraging economic diversification and creating a favorable financing and investment environment for SMEs.

“We will develop the Imtiyaz Fund by building and expanding our public and private partnerships and the priority will be given to businesses that contribute to technology and knowledge transfer to the local market.”

Tomalin said the bank expected the SME sector to become a key driver of innovation and economic growth in the United Arab Emirates.

Imtiyaz’s operations will be handled by KFED’s direct investment unit and NBAD’s private equity practive.

KFED launched its operations to promote entrepreneurial activity and grow business talent in 2007, and trains potential entrepreneurs, provides soft loans and gives ongoing support during the set-up and operation of SMEs.

NBAD has launched several SME-centric products since 2011, including opening of several business banking centres throughout the UAE which exclusively serve SMEs.

The bank has also partnered with KFED, the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dubai SME, and RAK Free Trade Zone on various initiatives aimed at promoting the sector.

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