UAE-based small and medium enterprises struggled to raise and collect money during the last quarter, pushing plans to recruit, launch products or open new outlets aside, according to a recent survey.
The Q4 2015 Gulf Finance SME Sentiment Survey, published by leading provider of finance to small and micro businesses Gulf Finance Corporation, highlighted that bearish sentiment permeated as sales and total orders received hit lowest point of the year in terms of positive outlook.
About 29 per cent of respondents claimed a further deterioration in payment collection over the last three months, it said.
More than half of Q4 respondents (74 per cent) now reported difficulties in their ability to raise finance.
The SMEs expressed cautious optimism ahead of this year with 50 per cent of respondents maintaining slightly positive outlook, 25 per cent are neutral and 12 per cent are negative.
David Hund, chief executive officer, Gulf Finance, said: “The last quarter of 2015 witnessed a significant increase in negative sentiment sweeping the SME market.
“As we’ve entered 2016, it is clear that the UAE’s SME market will continue to face similar challenges as seen in the second half of 2015. With a low oil price, slowing economic activity and lower levels of liquidity, SMEs are likely to continue to feel the impact on their business activities.
“Our Sentiment Survey notes a cautious optimism among small business owners which we hope will grow stronger during the course of the year.”
Meanwhile, the fourth quarter saw a sharp fall in respondents reporting a positive outlook on growth and sales with 35 per cent expecting that growth will remain unchanged or turn more negative and 65 per cent maintaining a positive outlook.