Pearl Initiative launches programme to enhance SME competitiveness

The Pearl Initiative has launched a three-year programme to enhance the competitiveness of SMEs through a tailored approach to corporate governance that is robust, flexible and simple to adopt.


Seeking to create a community to actively support SME businesses through their planning and implementation stages, the programme convenes workshops, training sessions and capacity-building roundtables to discuss tools and strategies with which SMEs can evolve to become mature and agile business enterprises.

These events will serve as an educational platform for GCC-based private sector companies, SMEs, incubators and regulators to exchange best practices and knowhow on smart implementation of corporate governance and accountability frameworks.

As part of the programme’s first phase, the Pearl Initiative rolled out a GCC-wide survey via public opinion portal YouGov. It aims to identify and shed light on how MSMEs in the region approach key governance related issues such as decision-making, business development, talent acquisition and funding.

Survey findings

The findings of this survey, which reached over 1,000 GCC-based SMEs, will be revealed in a comprehensive report highlighting corporate governance practices adopted by SMEs across the Gulf set for release in October.

It will highlight trends, gaps, challenges and opportunities for SME growth, ownership and competitiveness in the short and long term. The launch of the report will be followed by executive education and university courses to be delivered across the region, aimed at raising awareness about encouraging SME engagement, and driving dialogue on this subject.

Long journey

Carla Koffel, executive director, Pearl Initiative, said: “Micro, small and medium organisations have a huge role to play in generating employment and fostering innovation. However, the journey towards profitability and sustainability is often a long one with SME owners facing barriers to consistent and long-term funding, attracting diverse and skilled talent and establishing a competitive and well-managed business.”

She added: “The Pearl Initiative’s SME programme aims to support the SME community to build resilient organisations and create positive market reputations through using the tools of corporate governance, accountability and transparency.”

She said: “It will provide insight and up-to-date, practical and regionally-relevant data on management structures and uptake of corporate governance among SMEs over the three-year period.”

Koffel stated: “Data derived from the surveys we have conducted will help us design complementary resources and tools to help SMEs implement customised frameworks of governance aligned with their business needs.”