Dubai to empower budding entrepreneurs

Dubai - Dubai Next has seen 543 campaigns submitted on the platform since its launch.


Sandhya D'Mello

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Abdul Baset Al Janahi (right), CEO of Dubai SME, and Saeed Al Marri (left), Deputy CEO, Dubai SME, with Yousuf Al Arif, Founder of Padel 26. — Supplied photo
Abdul Baset Al Janahi (right), CEO of Dubai SME, and Saeed Al Marri (left), Deputy CEO, Dubai SME, with Yousuf Al Arif, Founder of Padel 26. — Supplied photo

Published: Tue 29 Jun 2021, 2:46 PM

Last updated: Wed 30 Jun 2021, 2:32 PM

Dubai is committed to empower budding entrepreneurs as the emirate introduces bold measures to boost the startup ecosystem, said Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME.

Al Janahi shared the update on Dubai Next, the first official crowdfunding platform in Dubai launched last month by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, on Tuesday.

Dubai Next has seen 543 campaigns submitted on the platform since its launch, and 44 of them have been live on the platform. The projects involve innovative ideas in diverse industry sectors, such as business, food, technology, education, design, film and video, gaming, health, and arts. Total funding requested so far has exceeded Dh27.7 million and the projects have received 72 contributions from 58 supporters.

“We as a nation are totally committed to extend our support to entrepreneurs here as well as attract global talents simultaneously to bolster growth. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai’s decision to launch Skill-Up Academy and a new platform to support the growth of startups Scale-Up Platform helps entrepreneurs with more clarity and a strong support system,” said Janahi.

Dubai Next has provided a solution for the next generation of entrepreneurs to highlight their diverse capabilities, and secure community support, guidance and follow-up, thus benefitting from the strategic goal of Dubai to promote knowledge and technologies, and grow sustainably. The platform enabled an Emirati entrepreneur to raise Dh100,000 and launch his startup Padel 26. The rest of the capital was financed by The Mohammed Bin Rashid Fund. The Padel 26 campaign was brought on Dubai Next after the entrepreneur worked on the business plan and feasibility studies for a year. The project involves four indoor doubles courts of Padel, a sport that requires less space than the normal tennis court.

Vemudra, another innovative initiative by two 16-year-olds to create an institute aggregator website that helps students to develop extracurricular talents, has also been able to raise 100 per cent of the funds it required on Dubai Next, following Padel 26.

A progressive step towards bringing the benefits of startup funding and digital technology to innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and the society, Dubai Next allows entrepreneurs to create campaigns online to seek funds for turning their ideas into reality. The not-for-profit crowdfunding platform operated by Dubai SME, the agency of Dubai Economy mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, is open to all nationalities and age groups in the UAE.

Facilitating access to financing for startups is a major focus of entrepreneurship development strategies in Dubai and across the UAE. Conventional lenders still have their concerns on providing startup funding. Dubai SME has been co-ordinating policies and initiatives, both government-level and collaboratively with the private sector, to bridge this gap through encouraging startups to adopt corporate governance practices, and simultaneously unlocking innovative funding options.

Creating more opportunities for entrepreneurs and startups has its dividends - it enhances SME contribution to economic development, and strengthens inclusivity, innovation and sustainability. Small and medium enterprises make up nearly 95 per cent of all companies in Dubai, employ 42 per cent of the workforce, and contribute around 40 per cent to the GDP in the emirate.

Majid Mneymneh, Vice-President, Higher Education & Corporate Pearson Middle East, said: “The launch of Skill-Up Academy and a Scale-up Platform to support startups and entrepreneurs in the UAE is a fantastic initiative. The UAE has ranked first regionally and fourth globally on the Global Entrepreneurship Index, and to be able to thrive in this competitive market, it is essential for entrepreneurs to embrace lifelong learning while also keeping up with the digital transformation of the workplace as the development of cognitive and interpersonal skills is just as important as fluency in the language.” —

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