Abu Dhabi, UAE. – 14th April 2010 – The first Abu Dhabi Forum on Entrepreneurship ended on a high today with more Emiratis looking to contribute to the UAE’s economic diversification through further development of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
An overwhelming response from the government, Emiratis, expatriates and the SME sector also highlighted a major interest to foster new businesses in the coming years via the creation of better quality jobs.
The forum - presented by the Abu Dhabi University (ADU) and the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development - also highlighted the importance of Emirati women in the country’s economic development. Dr. Hala El Sokari, Advisor to the CEO, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, said ‘the organisation is employing different ways to further increase women’s involvement in the entrepreneurship pathway’.
During the event’s panel discussion, speakers led by Dr. Sabah al-Binali, Chief Investment Officer of Saffar Capital; Dr. Nabil Ibrahim, Chancellor of ADU; Rashid and Ahmad Bin Shabib, Founders of Shelter, Brownbook and Brownbag; and Dr. El Sokari; responded a barrage of questions from the young minds of budding entrepreneurs and future business owners at the two-day event.
During his speech, Dr. Ibrahim said planning was critical to up-and-coming entrepreneurs hoping to make the leap from idea to actuality: “If you are an entrepreneur in the market you need financial backing to convert your idea into a commercial product and you will not be able to get funding from banks without a business plan and feasibility study.”
Talking about learning entrepreneurship and practicing entrepreneurship, Ahmad Bin Shabib explained the importance of networking, creating feasibility studies and business plans as well as mitigating financial risks by creating savings. “Business plans are as important as the planning stage. These two allow you to better react when crisis occurs at times,” he said.
Meanwhile, HE Mohammed Al Fahim, Honorary Chairman of Al Fahim Group, discussed generational entrepreneurship in Abu Dhabi. He related how each generation should maintain and diversify family businesses to create further success through the years. al-Binali tackled Saffar Capital’s extensive experience in assisting entrepreneurs and family-owned companies to launch new businesses outside the country.
Event delegates also expressed the importance of the forum in establishing the spirit of entrepreneurship within UAE nationals. Hussam Baydas, Team Leader in Al Dhabi Brokerage Co. LLC, said the forum ‘presented inspiring success stories from local entrepreneurs’ while the topic discussed by Tim Atterton, one of Australia’s leading facilitators of entrepreneurship, conveyed the important fundamentals of starting up one’s own business venture.
Dr. Emad Eddien Hussein, General Manager and Partner, MENA, Change Masters International, further reiterated the forum’s importance: “I found the success stories of micro businesses discussed during the forum had great appeal for future entrepreneurs. In future, more emphasis needs to be paid to start-up of such businesses, and issues of funding should be addressed with the result of diversification of investment schemes.”
Furthermore, Nabeel Al Mehairbi, portrait and landscape artist, added: “The event was informative and the line-up of speakers covered important issues in entrepreneurship in the UAE. It has created a huge interest for nationals; particularly the inspiring stories of successful local entrepreneurs on how to strive for success as well as pitfalls of becoming an entrepreneur in the UAE.”
Platinum sponsor Abu Dhabi Tawteen Council presented its entrepreneurship initiative while Abraaj Capital presented a case study on Riyada Enterprise Development. Professor Poh Kam Wong, Director of NUS Entrepreneurship Centre and Professor at NUS Business School discussed Singapore’s Entrepreneurship Support System.
Other entrepreneurs and speakers highlighted at the forum were Mohammed Saeed Harib, Founder, Freej and Lammtara Pictures; Azza Al Qubaisi, Founder of Arjmst Jewellery; Edward Roderick Hon LLD, Co-chairman, Envestors MENA; Khalid Saiduddin, CEO, Elixir Business Research and Partner at Raynuma Consulting; Omar Al Raisi, Founder and Entrepreneur, Raisani Group; JC Butler, Co-founder of Dubizzle.com; Rama Chakaki, Baraka Consulting; Nouvriet Boutros; Founder, Managing Director, Abu Dhabi Networking Group; Saqib Rashid, Partner, Riyada Enterprise Development; and Aman Merchant, CEO of Leading Concepts.
The forum was organised by Aim Events, ADU’s events management arm, and was supported by platinum sponsor Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) and Microsoft. The Institute for Executive Development (IED), a member of Abu Dhabi University Knowledge Group (ADUKG) was the forum’s strategic partner. For more information about the forum, please visit www.entrepreneurship-abudhabi.com.