University of Dubai (UD), one of the leading entrepreneurial universities in the UAE, has graduated yet another cohort of selected Emirati women entrepreneurs from the Northern Emirates. Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Bin Sultan Al Qassimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs and Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, congratulated the women for finishing the course and successfully starting their businesses.
The initiative is made possible by funding from Citi Foundation, Citi’s philanthropic arm. The Citi Foundation and the University of Dubai which entered into a joint venture in 2004 have since seen more than 200 women benefit from the project, many of whom are running successful businesses today. Funded by Citi Foundation and designed and delivered by the University of Dubai’s executive education center in conjunction with the Sharjah Business Women Council and the Khalifa Fund, the program aims to provide entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills needed to prepare their own business plans and build successful, profitable enterprises.
Karim Seifeddine, Corporate Communications Head for Citi in Middle East and Africa, said, “Together with the University of Dubai, Citi succeeded in designing and delivering a rigorous training program on entrepreneurship and Business plan development which has, so far, addressed the entrepreneurial qualifications of more than 200 women entrepreneurs and armed 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 Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, as well as key community players in the SME space such as Khalifa Fund for Economic Development, Sharjah Business Women Council, and Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development, among others, who are playing a vital role in recruiting, mentoring and supporting trainees.
Raja Easa Saleh Al Gurg, University of Dubai Board of Trustees Vice President, Dubai Chamber of Commerce Board Member and President Dubai Business Women Council, said, “The partnership project aims to reach out and build communication channels with the ladies living in the Northern Emirates and enable them to attend an intensive training program giving them the opportunity to establish their businesses in the areas where they live, without having to move to another Emirate. With our communication network with Khalifa Fund and Sharjah Business Women Council, we were able to provide those ladies with reliable supervision, funding and support free of charge, which I consider one of the most important elements of success of any new project.”
She added, “While we are proud of the ability of these joint programs to achieve our target, we see that it has contributed to strengthening the awareness of entrepreneurship, and laid the entrepreneurial spirit among women, and encouraged them to participate in the process to ensure they establish sustainable institutions and this is an indicator of significant long-term economic development in the country”.
Usha Kaul Saraf, Director of the Center for Management & Professional Development (CMPD) at UD said, “We would like to congratulate this year’s women entrepreneurs and thank Citi Foundation and Citi Group for having supported this program every year since 2004. Our continuous work has allowed us to build a thriving ecosystem of a highly-qualified team of experts, successful business leaders, entrepreneurs, mentors, consultants, governmental entities and private organizations that all aid in delivering workshops, mentoring and support to women entrepreneurs and their enterprises.”
Najla Al Midfa, Director of the Khalifa Fund, Ajman Branch, thanked Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, for her kind presence and enduring support.
Entrepreneurs Alya Busamnoh and Azza Al Shamsi received first prize for their business plan to set up their company, Xpose Studio. Through the initiative, Alya Busamnoh said she learned how to communicate with her audience and promote her business through various tools such as social media. “The marketing models that were presented to us helped me build my marketing strategy,” she said. “Now I know how to forecast and plan the budget for my business using the method and strategies that we learned. It will definitely help me improve my business and start making money!”
Besides imparting training, the program increased awareness of entrepreneurship and fostered an entrepreneurial culture and spirit among the women. The women’s participation in the innovation process is helping them to create sustainable enterprise – a precursor to the long-term economic development of any nation.