According to the latest study from Mastercard, the small and medium enterprise (SMEs) confidence levels are rising across the sectors in the region, with the retail sector being the most optimistic about the next 12 months.
“Confidence levels were highest among businesses in retail, closely followed by food, beverage, and entertainment. Construction and manufacturing sectors had the best forecasts, with 76 percent of SMEs projecting revenues that will either grow or hold steady. Half (50 percent) are projecting an increase,” said the research report.
As per the Mastercard Middle East and Africa (MEA) SME Confidence Index, 74 percent of construction and manufacturing SMEs are optimistic about the next 12 months of growth, owing to employee upskilling, improved loan availability, and better data and insights.
Ms. Amnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President, Market Development, MEA for Mastercard commented that “At Mastercard will look forward to a seamless continuation of supporting the SME ecosystem, providing the payments technology infrastructure and wider business solutions that will spur wide, inclusive growth of the digital economy.”
The report stated that as many regional economies gradually enter the normalization and growth phase, and social restrictions continue to ease, SMEs in the MEA region’s construction and manufacturing sector have identified upskilling staff (56 percent), easier access to credit (56 percent) and better data and insights (52 percent), as the top drivers for growth.
Ms. Ajmal further remarked manufacturing and construction enterprises are encouraging other SMEs in the sector as they continue to improve through a combination of digital transformation and people development.
As per the report, six out of ten (60 percent) identified rising costs of doing business as a source of concern in the coming year, while 47 percent highlighted access to financing.
Maintaining current staff levels (47 percent), training and up-skilling staff (44 percent), finding the right talent for new needs (39 percent), and mental and physical wellbeing (39 percent) are among the operational concerns for the coming year, according to Mastercard. The research report further highlighted that the growing trend of people development as a key theme for the success of small businesses.
Furthermore, the report added that “For many small businesses, reducing their dependence on cash through digital payments acceptance has played a major factor in being able to get paid and maintain revenues. Mastercard offers technology, data-driven insights, consulting, and predictive analytics solutions to empower businesses to acquire new customers, enhance customer loyalty and improve operations.”
Mastercard has pledged $250 million to connect 50 million micro, small, and medium-sized businesses around the world to the digital economy by 2025, leveraging its technology, network, expertise, and resources to help the company achieve its goal of creating a more sustainable and inclusive digital economy.