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Virtuzone's free marketplace to help SMEs during Covid-19 draws significant interest

Geoff Rapp, Co-Founder of Virtuzone
(Image credit: Virtuzone)

During times of hardship and uncertainty, companies and people in the UAE come together to help and support one another in the best way they can.

Virtuzone, which offers startups, free zone and mainland company formation services, has come out openly to help small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the UAE to raise immediate revenue, maintain its order book and keep supporting its workforce.

By launching a free marketplace – standtogether.ae – SMEs can publish special offers and reach a large audience of potential customers with their products.

To register their offers free of charge, SMEs need to provide only a valid UAE trade licence number. 

Geoff Rapp, Co-Founder of Virtuzone, told TechRadar Pro Middle East that SMEs are the backbone of the economy and even the government has announced a tremendous raft of support plans for SMEs. 

“When we started to see the negative impact of coronavirus on our business and customers, we really wanted to find ways to support them in every way possible. Initially, it was through reduced prices on our services, but we felt there were other ways we could support too. That’s when we came up with the idea of Stand Together UAE,” he said.

Moreover, he said that most of the SMEs don’t have a voice and cannot spend on marketing and even on their own staff. 

“So, they cannot get the word out,” he said.

Slow return to normalcy

Rapp said that the website was set up in three days and supported by Dentsu Aegis brands Isobar and Merkle.

“It is a very simple site and not a fancy site.  It is a temporary site for the crisis but if the community wants to continue, then we may look at continuing. We are not looking for profits from the site. We will evaluate in a month or so to see how it is flaring and get consensus from the community,” he said. 

So far, he said that the site has about 250 companies from 30 different sectors and has attracted more than 6,000 visitors.

Rapp said that Virtuzone has seen its revenues drop by more than 50%, facing the same financial difficulties as others.

“People are scared to launch or venture into new businesses and renew their licenses. To help our customers, we have reduced our prices to the lowest possible and stripped off all margins. Our bread and butter are still startups,” he said.

Rapp expects a very slow return to normalcy by the end of the year but is very “cautious”.