Entrepreneurship enhances productivity for sustainable development
The importance of entrepreneurship in increasing productivity amongst Emirati nationals was underscored by Mohammed Omar Abdullah, Undersecretary, Department of Economic Development, guest of honour and speaker at the opening of ‘The Abu Dhabi Forum on Entrepreneurship’ - presented by Abu Dhabi University (ADU) and Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.
Abdullah told participants at the forum that: “Entrepreneurship is a vital component of Abu Dhabi Vision 2030. With SMEs comprising 46 per cent of our economy, they all serve as essential contributors towards sustainable development and economic diversification of the emirate and of the country as a whole.
“Through the enhancement of creativity, innovation and technology, entrepreneurship will enable us to face the challenges posed by the global financial crisis and support the national economy, help the community, advance sustainable development, and further develop our human resource capital.
“International experience on entrepreneurship has shown that SMEs can create high standard and quality jobs. With 58 per cent of Emirati nationals active in the work force and 18.5 per cent of them women, I believe that entrepreneurship will not only help create new jobs and minimise migration of people looking for jobs, but also enhance participation of Emirati women in economic development,” Abdullah added.
Echoing this observation, Dr Ahmed Khalil Al Mutawa, Executive Director of Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, during his keynote address, revealed some of the key accomplishments of Khalifa Fund and cited that: “Out of the 4,007 business applications that Khalifa Fund have reviewed, one-third of them came from women and, out of 1,398 applicants that have been trained in 84 training sessions conducted by the Fund, 40 per cent of those applicants are women.
“In addition, out of 211 projects already approved and AED346 million worth of loans disbursed, 25 per cent of these financed projects were filed by women,” Al Mutawa added.
With regard to the sectoral focus of Khalifa Fund, Al Mutawa identified six industry sectors recommended for SME participation. Among the industry sectors mentioned by Al Mutawa were metal; petrochemicals particularly plastics conversion; engineering and construction; tourism; ICT; and food and beverages. In addition, over 115 sub-sector profiles were developed within the six sectors and will be used to identify project opportunities in SMEs.
“The estimated investment levels for the six identified sectors in the UAE stand at between AED 5-100 million for different sub-sectors depending on the investment value,” Al Mutawa said. “For example, the fittings manufacturing sub-sector within the engineering and construction industry is between AED 25-100 million, which provides SMEs with the confidence to invest in start-ups within this sub-sector.
“This is where agencies like the Khalifa Fund can assist potential SMEs by providing value-based information. The Fund addresses the gaps within the SME sector such as lack of funding, educational programs that incorporate small business creation and management and research programs that can be converted into commercial opportunities. Currently, Khalifa Fund is providing support to potential Emirati entrepreneurs, either directly or in partnership with other entities.”
Al Mutawa also touched upon various other sub-sectors like restaurant and cafes and facilities management within the tourism sector; agriculture (organic) for food and beverage; general hardware and laboratory services within the metal sector; packaging, storage and plastic moulded products for the petrochemicals (plastics) sector, which require investments of between AED 5-10 million – an affordable figure in these times of economic difficulty for potentially high-return ROIs.
“We recognise that successful entrepreneurs are the largest contributors to economic development and have the potential to be the greatest source of innovation and growth. In alignment with the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, Khalifa Fund is playing a leading role in fostering the development of entrepreneurship in the UAE by nurturing its development and facilitating the establishment of small and medium enterprises. Simultaneously, Khalifa Fund providing support and encouragement to Emirati nationals to actively participate in the economic growth of this great nation,” said Al Mutawa. “And a forum such as this is vital in fostering an entrepreneurial spirit and in catalysing enterprise development within a globally competitive environment as an engine of innovation and sustainability to national economic growth.”
More than 200 entrepreneurs in the UAE gathered in the forum to address various ways of growing the small and medium enterprise (SMEs) segment in the UAE. Government officials and local industry leaders attended led by H.E. Mohammed Omar Abdullah, Undersecretary, Department of Economic Development; H.E. Mohammed Al Fahim, Honorary Chairman of Al Fahim Group; Dr. Sabah al-Binali, CIO; HE Ali Saeed Bin Harmal Al Dhaheri, Abu Dhabi University Chairman and Principal of Saffar; Dr. Ali Hassan Alfageeh, Senior Consultant, Abu Dhabi Tawteen Council; Dr. Halah El-Sokari, Advisor to the CEO, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development and Dr. Nabil Ibrahim, Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer, Abu Dhabi University among others.
The forum was organised by Aim Events, ADU’s events management arm, and was supported by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) and Abu Dhabi Tawteen Council, the event’s platinum sponsors.