A former Goldman Sachs investment banking executive for MENA, Brandon Short, is all set to form the World Business Partners UAE (WBP). World Business Partners UAE will offer a Shariah-compliant financing solution ranging from AED 35,000 to AED 1.5 million for small businesses seeking working capital. WBP’s ijara asset sale-leaseback programme allows SMEs to use the cash equity of their existing assets to fund their businesses’ growth and expansion.

The small business finance company, which will be based in Dubai, will be a joint partnership with Short and his two partners. The other co-founders of WBP are Doug Naidus, former Managing Director and Global Head of the Residential Lending Division of Deutsche Bank, and former Chairman and CEO of MortgageIT, and Alex Gemici, former Managing Director and Head of MENA Residential Finance for Deutsche Bank. Short will be WBP’s President while Naidus will take on the position of Chairman at WBP. Gemici, on the other hand, will be the Managing Partner of WBP.

In order to expedite the launch of its programme, WBP has secured a services agreement with World Business Lenders under which World Business Lenders will provide substantial operational support to WBP. “I am excited to join a partnership with a proven and accomplished management team,” said Brandon Short, President of WBP.

“The SME market is under-served and, as such, has substantial demand for financing. We have already identified over 200,000 SMEs in the UAE alone that could participate in our programme. Our client’s business is the focal point for our funding decisions. Instead of focusing on personal assets or the business owner’s credit rating, we look at the history and financial performance of the business.”

Under the programme, WBP will purchase assets from the SME for an up-front payment and then lease back these assets to the business on a rent-to-own basis over what is usually a six-month term. During that time, the business maintains possession and has full use of the assets. At the end of the lease, ownership of the assets transfers back to the business.

“SMEs control 99% of the business sector worldwide and account for 50% of the world’s GDP. Today, access to capital and credit remains to be one of the most significant issues facing small businesses globally,” said Doug Naidus, Chairman of WBP. “We would like to address this problem internationally – starting with the GCC due to its growing economic importance. I am very pleased to be collaborating with Brandon Short as he leads this effort with his local Dubai presence, and adds his depth of experience and knowledge.”

Unlike banks, WBP will not require business plans or financial statements. To qualify, businesses need to provide information on the assets that WBP will buy and lease back, as well as business bank statements for the past 12 months. WBP will base its decisions primarily on the cash flow of the business.

“The GCC has over one million SMEs and a substantial demand for financing,” said Alex Gemici, Managing Partner of WBP. “In these challenging times for small business financing, our programme allows SMEs to tap into the inherent cash value of their assets.”

WBP’s asset sale-leaseback programme is ideal for retailers, such as grocery stores, dry cleaners, gas stations and electronics stores, as well as bakeries, delis and fast food restaurants. WBP also will work with a variety of service companies, including Web developers, accounting and legal practices, medical offices, private schools, auto repair shops and information technology providers.

Rushika Bhatia Editor

Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.

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