SME Revival: The 20 beneficiaries revealed
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SME Revival: The 20 beneficiaries revealed

SME Revival: The 20 beneficiaries revealed

Motivate Media Group, along with an expert panel, has selected 20 SMEs as the beneficiaries of the $1m initiative


As we approach the end of 2020, the monumental impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is now palpable across all sectors. One segment that has arguably been among the hardest hit is the small and medium enterprise (SME) ecosystem. While some have struggled to stay afloat, others have been forced to put their expansion plans on hold. In such an environment, SMEs have understandably hesitated to allocate budgets towards marketing and advertising. However, it is imperative for companies to remain visible and market themselves during this period.

In a bid to support such SMEs, Motivate Media Group is offering $1m worth of free advertising and marketing to homegrown UAE small businesses. The initiative, which has received approval from the Dubai government’s Department of Economic Development (DED), is offering 20 SMEs upto $50,000 free advertising space each across Motivate’s brands including Gulf Business, What’s On, Emirates Woman, Campaign and Identity. As part of the initiative, Motivate has also pledged to support five tech SMEs in partnership with the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa).

The SMEs have been chosen by an expert panel including: Badr Al Olama, executive director, Mubadala Aerospace; Dr. Amina Al Rustamani, executive board member, director and COO, AW Rostamani Group; Hamdi A Osman, chairman and CEO, Ho Holding; Mona Ataya, CEO and founder, Mumzworld; Ahmed Ramdan, group CEO, Roya International; Donna Benton, founder, The Benton Group; and Ian Fairservice, founder and managing partner, Motivate Media Group.


A technology company that aims to change the way people live and work, Bayzat has built innovative HR, payroll and insurance technology. As a licenced insurance broker, the company hopes that by simplifying HR administration, it will create more efficient acquisition channels and product stickiness. This will in turn convert platform users to group health insurance customers at a significantly higher conversion rate than any other broker in the UAE. The company is also focused on engaging with and providing value to employees directly via work, finance and medical benefits. As an HR platform, it is also able to acquire proprietary datasets, allowing the company to improve risk underwriting, product design and cross-selling. Bayzat’s mission: Make a world-class employee experience accessible to everyone.

The Box

The Box started in 2006 to bridge a gap in the UAE market for self-storage. It began by offering solutions enabling consumers to rent storage units of any size ranging from 16 sq ft lockers up to 1,000 sq ft mini-warehouses with flexible contracts starting from a week. It also provided users options to upsize or downsize depending on their requirements. The Box has since expanded to include local and international shipping, packaging, order fulfillment and related services, although the core focus remains self-storage – accounting for 80 per cent of the business. Its mission: Hassle free, first-time right and personalised for every user.

Up And Running (UAR)

Established in 2010, UAR is a Dubai-based sports medicine and rehabilitation facility. Staffed by senior practitioners, the company currently operates three centres in Dubai. A key USP is the quality of care and professionalism – the team only treat what is necessary and avoid prescribing unnecessary treatments and operations where possible. The centres offer patients a large range of treatments including sports medicine, physiotherapy, chiropractics, fitness testing, osteopathy and clinical pilates, among others. Its mission: Provide the highest quality of care with a focus on ethical, personalised, effective treatments. The ultimate goal is to ensure that patients are quickly and effectively “up and running”.

Trukker Technologies

Trukker operates on an aggregation model offering truck rentals and long-haul movements across the GCC. With a member network of over 18,000 trucks, it offers users instant booking, clearly disclosed rates and consistent performance standards. Trukker uses technology to handle aspects such as driver allocation and vehicle positions while also measuring performance data and analytics. The company aims to solve core problems in the business such as price transparency, route optimisation, in-transit tracking, service quality and timely delivery assurance along with a significant push towards digitisation of documents. Its mission: Constantly pushing the boundaries to build the next generation logistics ecosystem.


DGrade designs and produces eco-friendly clothing and accessories made from recycled PET plastic bottles. The company collects plastic waste in the UAE and processes it into PET flake. The flake is then shipped to partners in Southeast Asia where it is processed into fibre, spun into yarn, dyed and woven into fabric. The final product is then stitched either in Southeast Asia or in the UAE. All stages of the process are audited. DGrade, which has a range of 200 fabrics, also offers contract manufacturing to retail labels. Its mission: Reduce plastic bottles going into landfill, contribute to a cleaner environment and support a circular economy.

The Camel Soap Factory

As its name suggests, Dubai-based The Camel Soap Factory (TCSF) produces skincare products that use camel milk as the primary ingredient and are free of preservatives, parabens or palm oil. All products are designed, formulated and manufactured in its 8,000 sq ft unit in Dubai Silicon Oasis with core ingredients primarily sourced from local and regional suppliers. TCSF’s product range, which began with a focus on the souvenir market, has since grown into the everyday skincare segment and is now available in over 100 outlets across the UAE. Selected as one of the exclusive licensed product providers for Expo 2020 Dubai, TCSF’s mission: Provide locally made products with sustainability at the core.

Core Direction

A one stop solution for all things related to corporate wellness, Core Direction has a platform and app that provide a wide range of fitness, health and wellness services to corporates. Core Direction assigns key account managers to each individual corporate client to deliver bespoke wellness programmes that build team spirit, reward participation, improve productivity, reduce sick days and increase employee fitness and health. Programmes range from office chair meditation and yoga to outdoor team hikes and sports. Through its platform, it also offers real-time reporting to clients. Its mission: Reduce diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle by promoting healthy living.


Founded in 2009, Virtuzone helps companies to set up in the UAE, providing end-to-end administrative services as well as business support services such as bookkeeping and accounting, PRO and branding solutions. Working with startups, small businesses and entrepreneurs requiring their own trade licences, Virtuzone takes care of the setup process in the UAE mainland and in free zones. The company has helped more than 40,000 entrepreneurs and almost 90 per cent of its clients renew their trade licence every year. Virtuzone’s mission: Remove the complexities of company setup in the UAE so that its clients can focus 100 per cent on running their businesses.

A creative experience agency that focuses on an omni-channel approach, it delivers solutions across experiential marketing, events and activation, brand strategy, content creation, creative services and design distribution channels. Founded in 2007, the agency also offers a targeted approach with a focus on ‘smart-social’, connecting clients with existing and emerging audiences to accelerate growth. With a focus on increasing creativity, Lightblue has designed sales boosting platforms and award-winning work for brands such as Adidas, Estée Lauder companies, Heineken, Tom Ford Beauty, Porsche and Sony PlayStation. Lightblue’s mission: Build a space at the intersection of arts, entertainment and technology by believing in human intelligence and embracing creative courage.



Gymnation calls itself the UAE’s ‘most affordable and flexible’ gym, with memberships starting from Dhs99 per month and no-contract-cancel anytime options. All of its gyms are open 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, to cater to those who work unconventional hours or enjoy training late at night. Each Gymnation facility is over 30,000 sq ft, has over 500 pieces of equipment and offers over 200 free fitness classes per month. Gymnation’s mission: Make sure that health and fitness in the UAE is accessible to everyone and that everybody has access to an affordable and welcoming gym.

The Cobbler

Launched in 2011 to address the gap in the market for upscale repair services and quality formal footwear for men, The Cobbler uses the French apprenticeship practice ‘compagnon du devoir’ in its workshop. Its formal shoes are manufactured in Northampton UK and Spain, and its sneakers in Portugal. With four stores across Dubai and Abu Dhabi, The Cobbler also offers accessories and shoe-care kits. In the words of its founder Sibylle Arnold-Shish: “Our idea was to bring a true expertise, based on traditions and heritage, to deliver the best standards of services while offering a premium quality and decently priced retail range.”


An AI-based edtech platform, Suraasa seeks to assist teachers throughout their professional journey – from acquiring internationally recognised qualifications to finding relevant jobs across the world. The platform, which has more than 8,000 teachers enrolled on it, offers the professional graduate certificate in teaching and learning (PgCTL), a UK level 6 teaching qualification designed to help teachers accelerate their professional growth. Suraasa’s mission: Redesign the teacher skills education system, uplift the prestige of the teaching profession, and address the shortage of qualified teachers.

Gulf Seafood

Established in Dubai in 1993, Gulf Seafood supplies frozen seafood products, catering specifically to the foodservice channel including premium hotel chains, fine dining and QSR restaurants, catering companies, flight kitchens and institutional customers. Local users can also buy seafood products online with free delivery across Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. Additionally, the company exports produce to the GCC, US, Canada, Mexico and North Africa. Gulf Seafood also recently diversified its portfolio to include import and distribution of frozen bakery products and frozen flatbreads to the foodservice channel. The company’s vision: To be the best-in-class regional seafood processing company, providing premium quality products.



Healthigo helps healthcare providers gain, engage and retain more patients by connecting the entire ecosystem on a single platform and bridging the gaps between patients, providers and insurance. Disrupting the concept of connected care by focusing on partnerships, Healthigo facilitates higher visibility and discovery, better engagement and experience, improved response and care, as well as enhanced community and social collaboration.
Healthigo lists over 5,000 healthcare providers with more than 18,500 doctors, mapped to over 100 insurance providers in the UAE. Its mission: Build a smarter, healthier community together with its ecosystem partners.

Al Rafie Building Maintenance Establishment

Al Rafie is a UAE-based company that renovates old buildings and homes. Due to factors such as the extreme climate in the region, structures need to be rebuilt in roughly two decades. Hence Al Rafie shifted its focus from routine building maintenance to completely refurbishing old buildings and villas, catering primarily to property owners in the UAE. Owners can reduce the costs of demolishing and rebuilding new structures, with refurbishing costs generally 60–70 per cent less than building a new structure. Its mission: Support the local ecosystem – in the words of its founder, “There is no point in growing if the people around you don’t grow”.

Sheraa nominees


Dubai-based fintech Rise democratises access to essential financial services for expatriate workers. Privately founded in 2017, the platform creates fit-for-purpose financial products based on the needs of overseas workers in the GCC market, to empower expatriates with increased transparency and control over their own finances. Rise has so far helped tens of thousands of modest-income workers gain access to bank accounts, remit money globally, understand their financial health, set financial goals and gain access to credit. The company has partnered with financial service institutions regionally and globally to build relevant financial products and uses its AI driven platforms to distribute them. Rise’s mission: To put migrants in control of their finances.

Joi Gifts

Joi Gifts is an online platform that offers a range of gifts including fresh floral arrangements, chocolates and cakes, gourmet gift baskets, jewellery as well as personalised gifts. The platform also offers same-day delivery and a ‘singing telegram’ that can be used for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and other special occasions. Featuring brands such as Magnolia Bakery, Godiva Chocolates, Chateau Blanc and Carluccio’s, Joi now operates in six cities across the UAE, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Its mission: Create a seamless and enjoyable experience from start to finish to offer the true art of gifting.

Finyal Media

Finyal Media is a podcast network based in Dubai which creates content for young Arabs across the MENA region. In the words of its founders: “We strongly believe that the current media landscape is not championing our local culture in a modern way that is relatable to the younger generation.” The company began broadcasting what it claims is the region’s first original drama podcast series called The Basement, in September. The Arabic language series is available on all major platforms including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Anghami, Deezer and Spotify. The company’s mission: Tell stories that help young people reconnect with the Arab world.


Founded in 2017, Eyewa has now grown to become the largest online eyewear retailer in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The company specialises in the online retail of sunglasses, eyeglasses, prescription contact lenses and colour contact lenses. It offers a customised user experience throughout the shopping, ordering, packaging and delivery process. Last year, it was also selected as one of the top 100 Arab startups by the World Economic Forum for its contribution to the region’s digital transformation. Eyewa’s mission: Simplify the eyewear shopping experience by providing an easy, affordable and trustworthy platform.

AI Mentor

An online learning and self-development platform serving the Middle East and Africa, it offers video courses and motivational and informative talks in Arabic and English. Featuring a library of exclusive training video courses, motivational talks and video clips for professionals, AI Mentor’s network helps users develop human skills and capabilities. Some of the featured mentors include the likes of Diego Maradona and Egyptian actress Ragaa Elgedawy, among others. Its mission: To inspire Arab self-learners to excel, reach their potential and achieve their professional and personal goal.

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