Sharjah’s high-growth ecosystem is a hub for global entrepreneurs - GulfToday

Sharjah’s high-growth ecosystem is a hub for global entrepreneurs


Najla Al Midfa speaks during the Sheraa Ramadan Majlis in Sharjah.

Sajjad Ahmad, Gulf Today

Entrepreneurship and technology are going to play a big role in the UAE’s economic diversification drive.The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa), making its best efforts to attract and facilitate more local and global start-ups by launching new initiatives and programmes, said Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa.

Speaking during the Sheraa Ramadan Majlis, Najla Al Midfa said that Sheraa has set a precedent in building a world-class, founder-centric and inclusive ecosystem of founders, who have collectively generated a sizeable Dhs477 million ($130 million) in revenue and raised investments worth Dhs320 million ($87 million), during its five-year journey.

Najla said, “UAE SMEs sector showed resilience during COVID-19 pandemic. To support businesses during this crisis, we have launched a $1 million solidarity fund to help startups.”

The Majlis held recently under the title, ‘An Ode to Changemakers’.

The Sheraa CEO also spoke about Sharjah’s invaluable contribution to the entity’s success, highlighting that the emirate’s pro-entrepreneurship attitude has turned it into a home for innovation and impact. “Since 2016, Sheraa has inspired a community of over 17,000 changemakers and has graduated 114 startups,” Al Midfa announced in her opening address and shared that these startups have contributed significantly across sectors and created over 1,300 jobs. She also shared that Sheraa was especially proud of the fact that of the startups they graduated, 48 per cent were women-led.

Held in partnership with Alef Group at the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP), the Sheraa Ramadan Majlis brought together senior government officials and entrepreneurs from Sharjah and the UAE to discuss how agile and adaptive measures are elevating the emirate’s appeal as one of the leading SME hubs in the region.

Investors and entrepreneurs representing a wide spectrum of business sectors also showcased their success stories at the 2021 Sheraa Ramadan Majlis, detailing their experiences of setting up businesses in Sharjah and across the UAE and suggesting ways to further grow the startup ecosystem in the emirate.

Prominent attendees at the event included Sheikh Saud Bin Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi; Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq); Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP); Mohamed Al Musharrkh, CEO of the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah); and Issa Ataya, CEO of Alef Group.

Speaking at the event, Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal emphasised that as data and business intelligence are emerging as valuable resources, companies that shift their strategy to incorporate emerging trends are often able to pivot into successful ventures. “The future is about data,” he said, adding that proactive companies that keep sharp focus on evolving global trends will be better equipped to navigate disruptions and risks.

The world of business is changing at a rapid pace, said Al Sarkal, urging entrepreneurs “to keep on going, and follow your passion.”

Hussain Al Mahmoudi affirmed that SRTIP’s strategic partnership and collaboration with Sheraa falls in-line with its strategy to supporting start-ups in Sharjah, especially when the emirate is ranked among the world’s high-growth startup ecosystems according to the Global Startup Ecosystem.

He added: “Sharjah is also a pioneering global hub for startups seeking unique innovation, research and entrepreneurial success, thanks to its approach in sustaining a knowledge-based economy that encourages and inspires an innovative business ecosystem, as well as the continued development of its scientific and applied research sector. These efforts have strongly contributed in bolstering Sharjah’s position as a regional hub for entrepreneurship and innovative start-ups, and reinforces its competitiveness globally.”

Mohamed Al Musharrkh described how the startup ecosystem in Sharjah has been rapidly adapting to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic last year as people began to shift focus to new ideas, products and services.

Al Musharrkh also urged entrepreneurs to take advantage of the complete range of government solutions that the Sharjah Investors Services Centre (Saeed) provides to help investors and entrepreneurs set up their business in the emirate.

The CEO of Sheraa encouraged participating founders to be solution-driven in their ideas for change. She said: “The passion to transform Sharjah into a thriving destination for entrepreneurs is what brings us all together tonight. We need your help to know what is working, what needs improving, and where the opportunities are.”

Issa Ataya said: The entrepreneurship sector is a driving force in increasing the diversification of the economy. The industry requires support for emerging entrepreneurs to achieve sustainable and comprehensive economic development and provide more opportunities for creativity and innovation.

Ataya pointed out that Alef Group, in line with the vision and directives of the Sharjah Government and the leadership of the United Arab Emirates, is continuously working to provide innovative solutions for small and medium entrepreneurship projects.

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