At the end of March, the BCB became a wholly-owned part of OCO Global, completing our transition from the 100% grant-funded, not-for-profit entity that we started out as in 2014.
This effectively marked the end of our own ‘incubation’ under the joint ownership and stewardship of the two BBGs. The acquisition itself is testament to the very rigorous governance and structures that were put in place by the BCB’s previous board of directors, providing OCO with a transparent and wellmanaged low-risk business. This was fundamental to the whole process.
Whilst our shareholders have changed, our role, remit and brand has not. The BCB is still solely focused on the promotion of trade and exports between the UK and UAE; we remain contracted as the Department for International Trade’s delivery partner for trade services in the UAE, and it’s vital that we remain engaged with the BBGs in both emirates accordingly. Similarly, the BCB incubator remains a unique platform that we offer in Dubai through our partnership with Dubai FDI, which is only available for UK companies.
In parallel with our change of ownership, I am also very pleased to say that we’re also now able to provide the same incubation setup and soft-landing service in Abu Dhabi as we do in Dubai. From the BCB’s outset, the intention was always to have a presence in Abu Dhabi, but with our taking on trade services from DIT sooner than anticipated, this got rather delayed.
The delay has also given us time to really understand what works and apply our experiences from what we’ve learnt in Dubai over the last three years, helping 28 UK companies enter the market. Subsequently, we decided to develop our Abu Dhabi offering through an established Abu Dhabi partner, rather than going it alone.
BBG members PRO Partner Group (PPG) were selected for this after an extensive tender process, and we’re delighted to be joining up with them to provide BCB capability in Abu Dhabi. With their strong reputation, they have just the sort of extensive local network and knowledge that we needed to make this work commercially, as well as the strong company structures and oversight that were essential for us to be corporately aligned.
The BCB Abu Dhabi offer is ostensibly the same as for Dubai: AED 90,000 per year for the establishment of a foreign branch company, for up to 24 months.
Since publicising this to our UK contacts and database at the end of April, we’ve had more than a dozen expressions of interest so now we’re out marketing Abu Dhabi for the first time, we’re very confident that it will be a success and lead to more UK companies being attracted to set up in the capital.
Joe Hepworth is CEO of the British Centres for Business in the UAE