Small and Medium Enterprises Strategy for a Leading Multinational Bank in the UAE

Background and Challenge

A leading MNC bank in UAE had established its Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) division about a year and a half prior to this project. Sensing the huge opportunity in the SME space, the bank wanted to increase its focus on this particular segment. However, the UAE market was characterised by a dearth of publicly available information due to the “Tax Free” nature of the economy which did not mandate filing of annual books of accounts. The bank hence wanted an extensive research of the UAE market to identify focus sectors, growth potential and strategies to be adopted by the bank to target these segments. Such research would also give a first mover advantage to the bank as no other bank had access to such data.

Approach and Recommendations

To develop the SME strategy, UC adopted the following approach:

  • Conducted primary research amongst 100 SMEs to identify industry trends, banking needs etc.
  • Calculated the banking wallet size for leading SME segments
  • Prioritised focus segments
  • Conducted competitor research to understand key focus segments of the competition, their perspective of the market, future strategy etc.
  • Analysed the impact of the real estate boom and Islamic banking on the SME segments
  • Defined an agenda for action for the bank based on:

    1) Product Focus

    2) Geography Focus (relative importance of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah)

    3) Community Focus

    4) Value Proposition

    5) Risk

    6) Points of Parity and Points of Differentiation


UC delivered its market research on the SME sector in the UAE, along with recommendations of areas to focus on, growth potential and strategies to be adopted.