Under the Patronage of
Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Dr. Karim El Solh is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gulf Capital, one of the largest and
most active alternative asset management firms in the Middle East. Under his leadership, Gulf Capital
has been associated with some of the region’s most prominent private equity transactions and has won
numerous awards including ‘Best Private Equity Firm in the Middle East’ for four years in a row (2011,
2012, 2013 and 2014). Gulf Capital is currently managing $3 billion in assets, split across three
investment strategies: private equity, credit and mezzanine and real estate.
Prior to founding Gulf Capital, Dr El Solh was the CEO of the Abu Dhabi investment bank, The National
Investor. Under his leadership, the Firm was involved in a number of groundbreaking private equity
transactions and was ranked the number one IPO underwriter in the Gulf.
Dr. El Solh holds a B.S. degree in civil engineering from Cornell University, an MBA from Georgetown
University and a Doctorate in Economics from the Institute D’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Science Po).
14:00 - 15:30
SME Pillar Session 1 - Financing SMEs in the Digital Era
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) account for over 90% of firms worldwide. They are the most significant contributors to employment and generate the majority of jobs in developing economies. SMEs are also a substantial contributor to overall value-added in these economies.
However, SMEs face greater financing obstacles than larger firms—they enjoy less access to external finance and face higher transactions costs and higher risk premiums. Almost 70% of SMEs do not use external financing from financial institutions, and another 15% are underfinanced. The total credit required to finance these SMEs fully is over $2 trillion, equivalent to 14% of total developing economy GDP.
The session will discuss how to finance SMEs in this digital era and what challenges are.