78 percent of the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in the Middle East and Africa’s (MEA) retail sector are optimistic about the next 12 months, with 70 percent of them expecting to attain revenues over the course of that period despite the ongoing challenges imposed by the pandemic, according to the inaugural Mastercard MEA SME Confidence Index.
The index’s report showed that confidence levels were highest particularly in the food and beverage, entertainment, construction, and manufacturing sectors, with 50 percent of the sample projecting an increase in the aforementioned period.
“As many regional economies gradually enter the normalisation and growth phase, and social restrictions continue to ease, SMEs in the MEA region’s retail sector have identified training and upskilling staff (55 percent), acceptance of digital payments (49 percent), better data and insights (49 percent), and easier access to finance (49 percent) as the top drivers for growth. This highlights the opportunities for small businesses that arise from both internal transformation as well as industry regulations and trends,” according to the report.
Mastercard has pledged $250 million and committed to connect 50 million micro, small, and medium-sized businesses globally to the digital economy by 2025 using its technology, network, expertise, and resources.
Challenges to maintaining and growing their business, the rising cost of doing business, and access to the required capital were the top concerns for the coming 12-month period, especially amid the ongoing crisis, according to the index results.
Furthermore, the index showed that new payment methods are gaining popularity, with nine in 10 shoppers considering making a purchase with an emerging payment technology over the next year, including cryptocurrency, biometrics, contactless, QR codes, digital wallets, and wearables.
“SMEs are vital to the diversity of economies and to the progress of economic recovery. The MEA retail sector’s SMEs have shown resilience by prioritising best practices and really internalising the power of digital — both in-store and online — through contactless and ecommerce,” said Amnah Ajmal, executive vice president for market development in the MEA at Mastercard.
“As their digital transformation successes increase adoption in other sectors, the whole ecosystem benefits by sustainably driving commerce forward into a future of growth.”