RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is witnessing increased entrepreneurial activity as the total number of small and medium enterprises exceeded 1.2 million in the first quarter of 2023.
According to a report released by the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority, also known as Monsha’at, this figure reflects a 4.8 percent surge compared to the final quarter of 2022.
The report further revealed that 88,858 new businesses were launched across the Kingdom in the first quarter of 2023.
“Saudi Arabia’s robust SME ecosystem passes new milestones every quarter,” Mohammed Al-Belwe, Monsha’at vice governor for communications, told Arab News.
“More than 88,000 new SMEs were launched in Q1 alone, bringing consumers a new array of goods and services and spurring growth across key sectors such as tourism, e-commerce, retail, food and beverage, and fintech,” Al-Belwe said.
“Behind these numbers is an exciting new generation of entrepreneurs who are striking out on their own, and as the Kingdom’s non-oil economy surges, the growth of SMEs will continue to kindle unprecedented private sector growth,” he added.
Riyadh was home to 41.4 percent, followed by Makkah at 18.1 percent, the Eastern Province at 11.1 percent and the other cities accounted for 28.6 percent of the total SMEs in the Kingdom.
SME financing reached its highest level in the first quarter of 2023, touching SR1.35 billion ($359 million).
The e-commerce and retail sectors emerged as the most active sectors in terms of financing during the first quarter of 2023, the report revealed.
It also highlighted the initiatives of the Small and Medium Enterprises Bank, which provided six financing products, including credit cards for enterprises and e-commerce financing.
The products also include financing working capital, microfinance, financing with a revolving credit line, and term financing.
Also noteworthy were the achievements of the Biban 2023 Forum, an event held in Riyadh in March and attended by an estimated 145,000 visitors from all over the world.
The event generated over $13.8 billion in agreements and announcements for SMEs in the Kingdom.
Under the Vision 2030 goals, the SME sector aims to contribute 35 percent of the gross domestic product by 2030.
Moreover, SMEs are set to play a significant role in achieving the Kingdom’s objectives of lowering the unemployment rate from 11.6 percent to 7 percent and increasing women’s participation in the workforce from 22 percent to 30 percent.