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Just Falafel tops Dubai SME 100 ranking
Dubai SME announces plans for new initiatives, such as Dubai HighGrowth50 and Dubai Startup100, to offer further support to SMEs.
November 7, 2013 12:16 by Sidra Tariq
Restaurant chain Just Falafel has been declared the top SME in the 2013 Dubai SME 100 ranking, which recognises the 100 best-performing small and medium enterprises in the emirate.
Wavetec, a technology solutions provider, secured the second position, followed by Index Holdings, Dubai Desert Extreme and Elcome International.
The top 100 SMEs have a combined turnover of AED4.5 million and account for a total workforce of over 7,105. According to Sami Al Qamzi, director general of the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai, more than 3000 SMEs had applied or been nominated for the 2013 ranking, reflecting an increase of 178 per cent from 1,092 SMEs in 2011. “The evaluation process, which focused on the nominees’ focus on innovation, human capital development, international orientation and corporate governance, also expanded correspondingly,” he added.
Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME, said that the quality of SMEs in this year’s ranking is very high. “If you look at the total turnover of two years ago, it increased…from AED2.3 billion to AED4.5 billion. This means that companies are growing, economy is good, we have good companies, and the best indication for me is that there is a huge eagerness to develop and sustain.”
With Just Falafel’s financial growth, the company was poised to reach the top, he added. “In the past two years they have grown from 20 or 30 locations up to 800 franchises sold. It’s a huge growth. The challenge is: will they be able to maintain it?”
Fadi Malas, CEO of Just Falafel, said he was humbled by the recognition. “Every time we have been recognised in the last couple of years we take it very seriously. We go back and see how we can improve on anything that we have been doing.” The company climbed from 49th position in the 2011 ranking to 1st position this year. He added that Just Falafel’s strength in its food category puts it at par with the “number one’s” in the world who may be a thousand-fold bigger: “We will have to think smarter, leaner and harder so that we can compete with them at par.”
Dr Abdul Salam Al Madani, chairman of Index Holdings which came third, said that this was the first time his company took part in the Dubai SME 100 ranking: “We are proud to be in the top three because it is something good to motivate myself as a chairman and my team…and it is a big responsibility for us as a UAE national company [to be recognised among the top].” It also adds the responsibility and challenges of retaining a high standing, so the company will start planning for next year now, he noted.
Dubai SME has also announced plans to introduce new initiatives, such as Dubai HighGrowth50 and Dubai Startup100, to offer further recognition and support to SMEs. “In HighGrowth50 we are looking at the crème de la crème of the sector itself. Out of [the top SMEs] some of them have good financials, but the growth is low. They are financially stable but growth is not. We want to focus on the ones who are growing very fast to accelerate them,” said Al Janahi.
In Startup100, Dubai SME will shine the spotlight on the top SMEs’ smaller counterparts. “[In the current ranking], we look at companies who have three years’ financials. Now we will look at companies that do not have financials. [We will focus] on their innovation, products, services, what they are doing, and give them the right appreciation to help them to grow.”
Top 10 SMEs:
1) Just Falafel
3) Index Holdings
4) Dubai Desert Extreme
5) Elcome International
6) Dimara International
7) Al Jaber Optical Centre
8) Merlin Digital
10) Hira Industries