Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), Business Development, Business models, Business Model Canvas (BMC), Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Food sector


SMEs are the core engine of most economies around the world. Empowering SMEs with the right tools, especially those tools utilized to formulate business models would help the ventures to thrive more successfully. This study aims to provide such business development support tools to the food sectors SMEs of the GCC. This paper presents the results of an on-going research, part of which is investigating the factors influencing business development decision making, among SMEs operating in the food industry of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). To that end, the paper conducts an extensive literature review on the topic, which is followed by an industrial field study, and analysis of the data obtained. The field study involved 36 companies within the food industry of the GCC region. 

The findings from this study show that the SMEs in the food industry in the GCC region will need to have an effective business model in order to successfully run or grow their businesses. The initial result of this research shows that the business model canvas is the most suitable for SMEs in the GCC food sector. Furthermore, from the field study, a total of eleven influential factors have been identified, and these factors influence the approach to the business development process and the eventual success of such business development activities.  Finally, from the eleven factors, three themes were established. These themes showed the relationship between the influential factors and the BMC; the themes were the value proposition design, customer segmentation and business planning.

 In conclusion, it was identified that the major challenge the food SMEs face is that of establishing a product-market fit in the development of their products and services. Product market fit as a challenge in the GCC is associated with the rapid geopolitical and social changes being experienced in the region. Hence, leading to changes in the demand and delivery of food products. Product market fit challenge is also linked to the fundamental weakness of the BMC identified in the study. Therefore, further research is required to see how the BMC can be enhanced, to make it more effective to the specific needs and structure of the GCC market environment. To do this will require to capture and incorporate the knowledge from this study and those from successful food SMEs into a single enhanced BMC.

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