Press Release

March 31, 2014

UAE entrepreneurs say independent, reputable recognition programmes contribute to business growth

A reputable business recognition programme can do wonders for SMEs, say winners of the Gulf Capital SME Awards.

Fadi Malas, CEO of Just Falafel, which won the Gulf Capital Business of the Year award in 2013, says the award has given the brand greater visibility. “We feel at Just Falafel like we are under more pressure to perform, after being recognised, as it gives the brand more exposure in terms of visibility, (the Awards) structure your approach in terms of pitching your story to the judges and it is important for anyone to try and communicate and convince others of their business model. So it is a great step forward in exposing your story to a wider audience.” 

Emirati entrepreneur Tala Badri, owner of the Centre for Musical Arts, winner of the Emirati Business of the Year award, is thankful that the greater brand visibility has actually translated into more customers for her business.  She said, “The recognition has been fantastic and it has attracted many more people to the music centre.   Winning the award really underlined what we were doing and made us all feel proud.”

With the additional AED3million funding that she hopes to obtain through financing, Badri hopes she will be able to hire additional employees and achieve a target growth of six percent in 2014.

“Recognising entrepreneurial excellence is a key element of nurturing and encouraging the growth of the SME sector, which accounts for more than 90% of all businesses in the UAE.  Setting up and growing a business is already a challenging task; however, to be recognised as the best amongst your peers not only provides  great  motivation for the team but also lends a great deal of credibility  and recognition to the business. It is an affirmation that you are doing something right and doing it well. A business award can be a powerful way of differentiating your firm from the competition and gives a distinctive seal of approval for your activities.  Gulf Capital is proud to be associated with these SME awards and to provide support to the fast growing SME sector in the region,” said Dr. Karim El Solh, Chief Executive Officer of Gulf Capital, the leading alternative investment firm in the Middle East and a well-known supporter of SMEs throughout the region.

Women were a dominant force in last year’s edition, winning five out of the 11 awards. Business Leader of the Year winner, Leny Day, Managing Director Smashing! Cleaning Services (which also won MasterCard Small Business of the Year and the Sustainable Initiative of the Year) says team confidence was an important after-effect of winning the awards, “Entering the awards was a great experience for the team, as we set up 4 team leaders to create the award nominations, and then present to the judges. That was nerve-wracking, as they had never had to do anything like that before. We have continued the process of leading small groups in office presentations as it really helps their confidence and communication,” she explained.

Now in its third year, the awards programme, organised by MEED, the region’s leading business intelligence provider, is expecting a 35% increase in number of entries as it announced  nominations are now open for the 2014 season, in the following categories – Gulf Capital Business of the Year, MasterCard Small Business of the Year, RSA Start-up Business of the Year, Emirati Business of the Year, Online Business of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Business Leader of the Year, Sustainable Business of the Year, Customer Focus of the Year, Business Innovation of the Year, and People and Culture of the Year.

Interested entrepreneurs are requested to visit and submit entries before the deadline on 20 June 2014.

Winners share top tips for submitting entries

  • You have to be innovative and come out with a product which can make a difference. (Prabissh Thomas, Group MD, PTL Solar, Entrepreneur of the Year winner)
  • Take some time out of your busy schedule and focus on the entry. Winning the award will definitely make it worth it!
    (Lilliam Pollard, Managing Director, E-Walls Studio, Customer Focus of the Year winner)
  • It is important to be organised when presenting your business, focusing on the most important aspects, and at the same time to show your passion and conviction through your answers in the application, and if you get to present in front of a judging panel.
    (Tala Badri, Director, Centre for Musical Arts Dubai, Emirati Business of the Year winner)
  • Be committed to the cause and be as transparent as possible.
    (Bharat Kumar, Marketing Director,, Online Business of the Year winner)
  • Everyone should consider applying for these awards since it helps you structure your approach in terms of pitching your story to the judges and it is important for anyone to try and communicate and convince others of their business model. So it is a great step forward in exposing your story to a wider audience. 
    (Fadi Malas, CEO, Just Falafel, Gulf Capital Business of the Year winner)