‘Shabakah: Unleashing Entrepreneurial Power’ will support new businesses in expanding their footprint in the region
Sharjah, United Arab Emirates: Sheraa – a launch pad for aspiring young entrepreneurs in the United Arab Emirates – recently joined leading universities of the region in a bid to combine forces with their entrepreneurship programs.
‘Shabakah: Unleashing Entrepreneurial Power’ is a consortium created by Sheraa – Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center, ‘Centre for Entrepreneurship at the American University in Cairo (AUC) School of Business’, ‘Darwazah Center for Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at the American University of Beirut (AUB)’, and ‘startA from New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD)’. The joint meeting held at Sheraa’s newly inaugurated space signaled the beginning of a long-term commitment to foster knowledge sharing and collaborative activities among the region’s entrepreneurship centers in order to support the dreams of entrepreneurs in exploring markets beyond their home territory.
Ms. Najla Al-Midfa, General Manager of Sheraa, said: “This landmark agreement will significantly improve cross-country cooperation and bolster our efforts in empowering entrepreneurs in the region. The meeting gave us an opportunity to discuss our unique strengths and experiences in fostering an entrepreneurial mindset in our youth. We believe that cooperation between institutions will result in greater synergy between various programs, and strengthen our journey towards building a culture of confidence and innovation in the region.”
Ms. Robyn Brazzil, Program Manager of startAD at New York University Abu Dhabi, said: “Shabaka has the potential to not only create regional access to entrepreneurs but create a network of institutions focused on enabling entrepreneurship, including other university entrepreneurship centers, private incubators and accelerators, investors, government centers, and more. We are looking forward to fostering this collaboration and leveraging each member’s unique strengths.”
Dr Bijan Azad, Director of Darwazah Center for Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at AUB was very upbeat in his assessment: “Given the proliferation of regional centers of excellence that in some form support innovation and entrepreneurship, it is imperative and we know first-hand about each other’s programs and activities as well as becoming familiar with how we are serving respective ecosystems. This is will help us design and execute programs and activities that are fit for the region’s distinctive requirements and as important learn from each others’ work to evolve a set of regionally relevant best practices—we are not Silicon Valley but we use SV practices, I think it is about time we find out what works and what does not work so well in the region, so we adjust.”
The network will support aspiring and existing entrepreneurs to test new markets through exchange of knowledge and expertise, lowering costs and risks involved in expanding their footprint. The members also decided on key programs that will be jointly held by tapping into their expanding community and student base. One of the many activities include a ten-day educational tour to the United States. Students, entrepreneurs and other members of the newly formed consortium will visit start-up hotspots across the country, and interact with successful founders who share their passion for entrepreneurial excellence.
Sheraa continues its concerted efforts in building a strong start-up ecosystem in the United Arab Emirates and the region. Last month marked the start of the accelerator program where 10 teams will receive end-to-end support for establishing and running a new business.
Sheraa (Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center) was launched in January 2016, under the patronage of Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi – Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) – to provide a launch pad for aspiring young entrepreneurs in the UAE. Sheraa’s state-of-the-art co-working facility is housed at the American University of Sharjah, and hosts a thriving community of students and ambitious entrepreneurs.
Sheraa – ‘Sail’ in Arabic – inspires youth to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, and empowers them to navigate through the processes of launching a business, transforming them from job seekers to job creators in the United Arab Emirates and the wider region.
It runs the country’s first university-based ‘accelerator’ program, offering a mentorship-driven, three-month entrepreneurship boot camp to support teams that demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit and courage. The hands-on accelerator also provides seed-funding and strategic mentorship by industry professionals, and a suite of other competitive benefits.
Also amongst its initiatives is an ‘academy’ that equips students with 21st century industry skills to bridge the skills gap. Sheraa’s first accelerator cycle is planned for October 2016, while the 650 square meter facility is due for launch in the same month.