Under the patronage and in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, the University of Dubai (UD), and the Citi Foundation, Citi’s social investment arm, today celebrated the completion of the 10th Citi-funded Diploma Program in Entrepreneurship and Business Plan Development. Held for the first time in the Emirate of Fujairah, the program is also supported by the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.
The program, which provides budding female entrepreneurs with a comprehensive support network and training scheme to establish their own businesses, has been designed and delivered by University of Dubai’s Centre for Executive Development (CED). The program aims to provide entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills needed to prepare their own business plans and in turn build successful, profitable enterprises.
This year 30 women from areas such as Al-Bidiya, Al-Murbah and Dibba participated in the first level of the program, with 22 going on complete the full program and submit business plans. These plans were reviewed by Citi Foundation and Khalifa Fund six of which were honoured at the recent graduation ceremony with Best Business Plan awards.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, H.E. Dr. Eesa Bastaki, President of the University of Dubai, said: “Dubai Chamber founded the University of Dubai in 1997 with the aim to develop and build the region’s future leaders. UD’s Centre for Executive Development is fully committed to proving equality through education, and encouraging female economic participation in order to develop and diversify the UAE’s economy and future development. Through this CED program we are creating a platform to support and develop the ideas of local female entrepreneurs into the established businesses throughout the UAE, the region and the rest of the world”.
He added: “We are very grateful to Citi Foundation for continuously providing funding for this initiative, year on year. Their generous support has allowed University of Dubai to build a thriving team of highly qualified experts, successful business leaders, entrepreneurs, mentors and consultants from across public and private organisations, who engage proactively with us in delivering workshops, and providing continuous support and mentoring to our entrepreneurs.”
“This is the first time the program is being delivered in Fujairah, in collaboration with Khalifa Fund, with the aim of providing entrepreneurs with a fully supportive ecosystem to facilitate the establishment of business in their home towns. This support will continue following the completion of the program, until women have successfully established their businesses. The aim of this scheme is not only to produce future business leaders and employers, but also to foster a culture of entrepreneurial spirit amongst local woman through every part of the UAE, which is essential in developing a strong and diversified economy for our country.”
H.E. Abdullah Saeed Al Darmaki, Chief Executive Officer of Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development said that the support that Khalifa Fund is giving to this initiative falls in line with tour endeavour to support the government’s efforts that enable women to perform a vital role in the business sector.
Al Darmaki indicated that Khalifa Fund has launched various programs and initiatives with an aim to integrate Emirati women into the business sector. He added that the Fund, through its ‘Sogha’ initiative, has succeeded in transforming more than 400 female Emiratis into successful business women, who are now playing a vital role in increasing their family’s income throughout the UAE.
He acknowledged the success of the partnership with University of Dubai and Citi Foundation, expressing his hope for the continuation of this cooperation in launching more high quality initiatives in the future.
He also indicated that the Fund began to expand its services to other Emirates, aside from Abu Dhabi, in 2011, and has since opened three branches, including Fujairah. So far, the Fujairah branch has provided financing to around 42 projects, with a total value of around AED 15 million and organised around 20 training courses, which have benefitted around 320 male and female Nationals in the Emirate.
Commenting on the program, Mr. Karim Seifeddine, Public Affairs and Government Relations Head, Citi, said: “Together with the University of Dubai, we’ve succeeded in designing and delivering a rigorous training program on entrepreneurship and Business plan development which has been addressing the entrepreneurial qualifications of women entrepreneurs around the country and arming them with the necessary skills, and knowledge base.
“The program has evolved into a model for academic training on entrepreneurial skills as it teaches all the necessary elements for succeeding in the business world. Furthermore, we are proud that the program has enlisted the support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, as well as key community players in the SME space such as Khalifa Fund for Economic Development, among others, who are playing a vital role in recruiting, mentoring and supporting trainees.”
Citi has been present in the Arab World for more than fifty years and continues to view the region as critical to its global franchise. Throughout this period, the bank has evolved into an active corporate citizen, with a particular interest in supporting financial literacy, education, and entrepreneurship.
This female-only initiative, which is fully supported and funded by the Citi Foundation, has impacted over 300 women entrepreneurs since its launch in 2004, and many of them are running successful business ventures today.
The event was held at Al Diar Siji Hotel, Fujairah and was attended by His Excellency Saeed Mohammed Al-Raqbani, special advisor to Sheikh Hamad Bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Ruler of Fujairah and Member of the UAE Supreme Council, H.E. Salem Al-Zahmi, Director of the Office of the Crown Prince of Fujairah, and senior representatives from the three parties.