The SME trends fintech companies need to know in the MENA region

Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a neowealth disruptor in Australia.

This week we turn our eyes to the middle east when it comes to SME fintech trends. Dubai based SME lender Beehive, has released its SME State of the Nation 2019 report, as part of its 5th birthday celebrations, and it contains some fascinating insights into the big issues and areas of development for local SMEs owners in the MENA region. The report is the culmination of discussions with SME founders and CEOs in the region, as well as collated survey data from 175 SMEs.

For those with a keen eye on the region, with respect to potentially launching SME focused fintech services, it presents a must-read. We delved into the report and extracted some of the key takeaways, for those of you looking for a ‘Blinkist’ approach to your weekly fintech content.

Hiring and talent

  • 38% of senior positions in the region are held by women, much higher than the global average of 29% quoted in the report.
  • 60% of SMEs reported that finding the right talent was difficult to very difficult.
  • 28% of the MENA SME workforce is under the age of 25, with nearly half of all SMEs surveyed indicating they would hire someone under 25 with no experience.

Fintech takeaway: The high percentage and probability of younger hires could suggest an increased propensity digital financial solutions versus traditional banking.

Financing growth

  • 28% of respondents see innovation as a priority for growth, yet only 2% of those surveyed are currently trying to access finance to fund it.
  • 66% of SME respondents stated late payments as being the biggest challenge for growth.
  • 45% of respondents would use a peer-to-peer loan to finance their business.
  • 32% of respondents are using or considering short-term financing like invoice finance

Fintech takeaway: Simple unsecured SME lending services that flex with cash-flow are likely to be well received in the region. More niche lending solutions that also understand how to finance efficiency gains and digital transformations will help MENA SMEs start prioritising innovation.

To read the full report, head here.

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