Factors Determining SMEs Intention to Access Alternative Financing in Emerging Markets: Evidence from the UAE

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play a crucial role in driving economic growth, fostering innovation, and creating employment opportunities in the UAE. Despite their significance, SMEs often face a persistent challenge namely the funding gap. The realm of alternative finance presents a valuable opportunity for SMEs in the UAE to address their funding gaps. However, there seems to be a gap in SMEs' understanding of the viability of alternative finance mechanisms and their willingness to explore such funding sources. The primary objective of this study is to investigate the factors that may shape SMEs' inclination to adopt alternative finance in emerging markets, with a particular emphasis on the UAE market. Previous research has primarily focused on SMEs' access to bank finance, leaving alternativefinance underexplored, particularly in the context of the UAE. This study addresses this research gap by providing empirical evidence, proper measurement, and conclusive findings. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of the factors influencing SMEs' intention to access alternative finance in the UAE such as level of complexity in using alternative finance mechanisms, SME owner/manager perceived trust and risk towards alternative finance, credit terms of alternative finance sources, visibility of alternative finance in the UAE, social/peer influence on SME, innovativeness, and financial literacy of SME owner/ manager. This study examines variety of factors simultaneously to assess SMEs intention to access non-bank financing and to the best of the researcher’s knowledge, no systematic study in the UAE is conducted to test such robust relationship till date. The study employed a convenience sampling and purposive sampling techniques to target 40x0 SMEs from various dominant business sectors in the UAE. A questionnaire was used to collect quantitative data, which was then analyzed using binary logistic regression to bridge the gap between theory and practice and enhance existing theories. A total of 430 samples were gathered over a duration of 6 months for the purpose of data analysis, thereby culminating the research process. The collected sample was larger than the target sample. This study represents one of the earliest investigations in the UAE and the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) region to identify strong predictors enabling SMEs willingness to access alternative finance. The study has theoretical as well as practical contribution. The theoretical framework of the research study is based on the technology-organization-environment framework, also known as the TOE framework, that explains technology adoption in organizations and describes how the process of adopting and implementing technological innovations are influenced by the technological context, organizational context, and environmental context (Tornatzky and Fleischer 1990). This study not only tested the TOE framework in the UAE context but extended the framework of the theory by adding individual context testing the relationship between financial literacy of owner/manager of SME and their intention to access alternative finance. The research findings strongly support the significance of innovation, credit terms of alternative finance, visibility of alternative finance, and SME owner/manager financial literacy within the TOE framework in predicting the intention of SME owners/managers to utilize alternative finance. However, complexity, perceived trust, and perceived risk associated with alternative finance have been found to be insignificant as there is no relationship found of these variables with SMEs intention to access alternative financing. The study provides valuable insights for policymakers, regulators, and SME owners/managers on the theoretical and practical benefits of alternative finance for driving the growth and development of SMEs in emerging markets, particularly in the UAE.
SMEs, alternative financing sources; funding choices; determining factors; TOE framework; logistic regression