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Growth of the Microfinance Industry in the UAE Focus of Roundtable Discussion

microfinance in uae

Latham & Watkins and the Dubai Microfinance Club co-hosted a forum to discuss the development of the microfinance market in the United Arab Emirates.

30 April 2013

Dubai … Latham & Watkins LLP 1 and the Dubai Microfinance Club, a microfinance industry group of professionals, convened business leaders from the microfinance sector in the UAE to discuss the state of the industry and potential for growth.

Latham & Watkins counsel Dipti Thakar moderated the panel debate which provided an overview of the microfinance market in the UAE, the potential for growth across the region and the market forces which underpin the development of the sector. Balthazar Capital, a leading local microfinance advisory firm serving the Arab world, shared key findings from a recent survey conducted on microfinance trends in the UAE, including:

  • Size of the potential microfinance market for Emirati microentrepreneurs;
  • Types of microenterprises in the UAE; and
  • Geographic areas such as the Northern Emirates and rural Abu Dhabi with the greatest need for access to finance.

The group of distinguished panelists included: Noor Al Jallaf, Senior Business Counselor at Khalifa Fund; Leila Ben-Gacem, Senior Manager at Khalifa Fund’s Sougha unit; Raman Krishnan, Chief Risk Officer at Dunia; and Heather Henyon, Managing Partner at Balthazar Capital and Chair of the Dubai Microfinance Club.

Dubai counsel Thakar said: “The microfinance industry has a significant role to play in developing key parts of the local economy and supporting the growth of an entrepreneurial society. Building a vibrant and strong microfinance industry is important for business and society and

we are delighted to be part of the dialogue alongside key players from the UAE’s nascent and ambitious microfinance sector.”

“While there is perception that the need for microfinance does not exist in the UAE and in the Gulf countries in general, there are locally owned home-based enterprises in need of access to finance. Our field survey found that almost 20,000 Emirati microentrepreneurs could benefit from microfinance services,” commented Balthazar Capital’s Henyon, who also serves as Chair of the Dubai Microfinance Club.

Microfinance refers to the provision of capital and financial advisory services to low-income entrepreneurs who would otherwise not have access to banking services, with the socioeconomic goal of helping lift people out of poverty and fostering economic development.

About Latham & Watkins

Latham & Watkins is a global law firm with approximately 2,000 attorneys in 31 offices located in Abu Dhabi, Barcelona, Beijing, Boston, Brussels, Chicago, Doha, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, Munich, New Jersey, New York, Orange County, Paris, Riyadh, Rome, San Diego, San Francisco, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Tokyo and Washington, D.C. For more information on Latham & Watkins, please visit the Web site at

Notes to Editor

1 Latham & Watkins operates as a limited liability partnership worldwide with affiliated limited liability partnerships conducting the practice in the United Kingdom, France and Italy and affiliated partnerships conducting the practice in Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore. Latham & Watkins practices in Saudi Arabia in association with the Law Office of Salman M. Al-Sudairi.

Dipti Thakar, counsel, Dubai +971.4.704.6325

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