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Young entrepreneurs show off their wares

Chris Hough / 29 March 2012

DUBAI - More than 2,000 students with 700 kiosks are participating in the Young Entrepreneur Competition 2012 at Wafi in Dubai.

The event for budding entrepreneurs from high schools and universities in the UAE began on Wednesday. At the end of the competition on March 31, ten winning kiosks will be selected, with the winners to be announced in a special ceremony at World Trade Center on April 7.  

The competition is taking place under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and Dubai SME, the agency of the Dubai Department of Economic Development mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector.

Nisrin Mohamed Safar Al Harmoudi, general co-ordinator of YEC 2012, said the event is growing and providing opportunities for young people in the country. “This is the eighth year after we started in 2005. In the first year, we had 50 projects, now we have over 700. The event features high school and university students from all over the UAE, and all different nationalities,” she said.

“By giving students the chance to run a kiosk, they can develop their SME ideas. It also helps to spread awareness amongst the students of what it takes to run a business.”

With the stalls located on the ground and first floors of Wafi shopping centre, members of the general public can easily browse the variety of stores. Abdulaziz Al Mazam, YEC 2012 supervisor of operations, said he hoped the experience would encourage the students to consider developing their business ideas.

He said, “After studying, if the students want to continue their business, then we will support them. We take care of the students and give them the opportunity to expand their businesses.”

Rawan Basher, 16-year-old student from Al Rashid Al Saleh School, was enjoying the first day of YEC 2012 with her sister, Dan.

“Last year, my sister had a stall and this year, I am selling accessories that I designed myself,” Rawan said. “It’s been a little bit hard so far, because everything is handmade and took time. But I have sold a few things and it has been fun.” Four girls from Al Mawakeb School — Joy Ibrahim (15), Ghada Dawood, (16), Aisha Al Jassim (16) and Lima Fazza (16) — had also enjoyed a successful morning on Wednesday. “We sell handmade accessories, nail polish and polo shirts. We can write anything on the polo shirts, like logos. We’re also selling headbands,” said Lima. “It’s been going pretty well so far. We’ve sold some stuff. This is our first time here.”

A team of judges is touring the event to pick ten winning stalls, which will be selected on criteria including customer service, marketing and originality.

Members of the public can also get involved in the event. Everyone who spends at least Dh200 at a stall will be entered into a raffle to win prizes, including vouchers. The visit hours are from 10am to 10pm. On March 30, the hours will be 4pm to 10pm.




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