The UAE wants more of its youth to be entrepreneurs.
Similar to other countries, the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector in the UAE has a large impact on the overall economy. However, in the UAE, the sector is dominated by expatriates.
“While the contribution of SME sectors to the UAE economy is quite remarkable at 95 per cent, the number of Emirati entrepreneurs is very small,” said Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Establishment for SMEs (MBRE).
In an effort to encourage more Emiratis to start businesses, Tejar Dubai, an entrepreneurs’ development programme, designed by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in cooperation with the private office of Shaikh Majid Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, has been launched.
“Our main target is to boost this sector further by increasing the involvement of young Emiratis in this business segment,” Al Janahi said, adding that the current contribution of Emiratis in the SME sector is less than five per cent.
Incubator for innovation
The initiative will be supported by the MBRE to become an incubator for innovation and creativity, he added.
Stressing the importance of SME development, Al Janahi said the performance of this sector ought to be on par with global levels.
“SME is a very strong business sector in the UAE but lacks Emirati talents. Thus, funding initiatives by the private sector will help promote and boost the involvement of UAE nationals in this business segment,” he said.
Citing the difference between Tejar Dubai and MBRE, Al Janahi said the MBRE was a government model tasked with encouraging entrepreneurship by offering all available support to its members — from finance, registration, networking, training and advocacy. “Moreover, we work on upgrading and drafting rules and regulation related to this sector and including all business activities to provide an ideal business environment for SMEs.”
However, involving the private sector to enhance the role of SMEs in the UAE would be quite effective since it would narrow down its focus on specific businesses. “Getting use of the Dubai Chamber members can help a lot in nurturing these talents,” he said.
Hamad Bu Amim, director general of the Dubai Chamber, said Tejar Dubai was a much-needed initiative that could help boost the number of entrepreneurial projects and SMEs, which are central to the future growth and success of Dubai’s economy.
“The global financial crisis showed the need of growing economies to support innovative ideas and adopt youth enterprises. It is vital to focus on entrepreneurial growth in order to boost SMEs as these businesses also contribute significantly to employment and economic activity,” Bu Amim said.