Stepping up for SMEs

Craig Moore - Khaleej Interview

Craig Moore, CEO and Founder, Beehive

Using a robust-technology-driven platform, Beehive connects small businesses seeking fast and affordable finance with investors who can support their aspirations for growth or help with cashflow.

When Beehive CEO and Founder Craig Moore set up the company in 2014, fintech was unheard of, even for an innovation-driven economic hub like Dubai. The concept was new and at the time there was not a system or an institution in place for established SMEs to turn to for fast and affordable finance. The traditional model for financing was to go through a bank.

But Moore, who has a background in finance, technology, consultancy, and entrepreneurship, saw a business opportunity for peer-to-peer (P2P) lending. “I saw a gap in the local market for Beehive; there was a lack of options for SME finance here, whereas this funding gap had been addressed by digital peer-to-peer lending elsewhere, such as in the UK, US and Europe,” he explained.

Moore says P2P lending is already a proven and successful concept in more mature markets, where it has created exciting new opportunities for investors, faster access to finance for SMEs and a healthy contribution to the economic development of the markets that support such a lending platform.

“It took us some time to build the business because it was a new concept and we had to massively educate the market about fintech and what we wanted to do. We were having conversations with commercial authorities, banking institutions and service providers such as lawyers to help them understand Beehive’s business model,” recalled Moore.

Beehive blazed the trail for P2P lending in the UAE, and recently opened an office in KSA as part of their expansion, although under a different business model, which utilises ‘first of their kind’ banking partnerships in KSA. Since launch, Beehive’s investors have funded almost 700 UAE-based SMEs collectively amounting to more than Dh600 million in lending.

Having supported hundreds of entrepreneurs and being one himself, Moore sees passion, energy and resilience as some of the traits that make small business owners a success. “Passion is critically important to support entrepreneurial get up and go, and resilience and energy are key when powering through a tough week if you receive a set-back on a Sunday morning. These characteristics are what great leaders should inspire and promote,” said Moore.

“Starting and growing a business is tough and not an individual sprint, but a team effort. You have to have a team of impassioned and empowered employees who will work with you through the good times and bad,” Moore added, but also believes that timing is just as critical for success.

It is no surprise that Moore named his company Beehive, as he is a big fan of entrepreneurs surrounding themselves with a good team that they can trust. Just like in a beehive, where every bee contributes to the hive’s success.

And they are also some of the most adaptable species. Moore adds: “Businesses need to be able to adapt to changing market conditions, such as when the pandemic hit. For us, and some of the entrepreneurs that we work with, it was a great time for reflection and communication. Many businesses, especially those in the e-commerce space, saw sales boom, leading to a surge in finance requests for business expansion to deal with the increasing demand.

On the flipside, some businesses struggled after COVID-19 hit and we focused on support and close communication in order to work out a realistic repayment plan whilst keeping our investors informed.

During this time, we worked with Dubai SME on a capital guarantee scheme with a three-month payment holiday to help Emirati-owned SMEs, which supported confidence and lending volumes.”

As more and more small business in the UAE look to Beehive for funding, Moore believes the next phase of development will be the growth of investments coming from institutional entities, which will enhance the liquidity pool and help more SMEs access loans at better rates and further drive the UAE economy.

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