(MENAFN Press) Over 400 stakeholders in entrepreneurship development from across the region started their deliberations on policies and practices required to create robust entrepreneurial ecosystems at the first-ever World Entrepreneurship Forum “ UAE Chapter, hosted by Dubai SME, the agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector.
The two-day Forum, which began at the Dubai World Trade Centre today, is being attended by policy-makers, angel investors, incubator operators, mentors, SME founders/owners/CEOs from the Middle East along with international experts on SME development.
Speakers at the Forum will highlight the various aspects of the entrepreneurship ecosystem raging from angel investor networks, mentorship, women & youth entrepreneurship, incubators and accelerators. The Forum will also enable regional SME agencies, academic institutions and NGOs to explore new ideas and strategies for advancing entrepreneurship to meet emerging challenges and move to the next level.
Commenting on the Forum, His Excellency Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of DED said he expected the Forum to evolve practical solutions to the challenges facing entrepreneurs, businesses and economies worldwide. "Dubai and the Department of Economic Development is particularly keen to encourage collaborative efforts towards facilitating business and economic development. The World Entrepreneurship Forum is a perfect fit with our commitment and we are pleased to note Dubai is the first city in the region to host the Forum," said Al Qamzi.
The Opening Panel at the Forum was led by His Excellency Ahmed Bin Byat, Chairman of Dubai Holdings, Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO, Dubai SME and Mr Tugrul Atamer - Executive Chairman of the World Entrepreneurship Forum. Moderated by Khalifa Al Jaziri, CEO of Ehome Automation International, the panel shared views on the essential elements of an entrepreneurial city and explored how Dubai and the UAE can drive entrepreneurial opportunities and identify sectors where innovations can be best applied.
In the second session of the day His Excellency Abdullah Dermaki, CEO of Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development and the Dubai SME CEO led discussions on 'Defining the (entrepreneurial) ecosystem' and 'Fostering and enabling the right spirit and culture of entrepreneurship.' The two CEOs recalled the experiences of their respective organisations and stressed that the rising youth population in the Arab world along with the region's rich entrepreneurial traditions can drive social entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial partnerships.
Commented Abdul Baset Al Janahi: "I am delighted that the World Entrepreneurship Forum is serving as a virtual ecosystem and hub for various streams of discussions and platforms all connected by the vision to serve and develop entrepreneurs. All the stakeholders represented here are discussing and sharing their ideas to make the entrepreneurial ecosystem a better one. Hopefully, actions will follow to start a business project, implement a business-friendly rule, launch an initiative to encourage start-ups etc, by any stakeholder."
The first day of the Forum also witnessed idea exchanges on mentorship that allows new entrepreneurs to be guided by experienced entrepreneurs as well as angel investor networks that provide seed/equity capital for start-ups. The concepts of crowd funding and crowd investment, which are relatively new to the region, were also explained for the benefit of entrepreneurs seeking funds to implement their business projects and growth plans.
"The World Entrepreneurship Forum aims to showcasing best entrepreneurship practices worldwide. Dubai SME's initiative to create the first UAE Chapter in Dubai is very relevant due the countless efforts of Dubai to support and encourage entrepreneurship through better infrastructure, policies and access to capital. We really look forward to listening and learning from Dubai and the UAE and sharing the inputs with entrepreneurs worldwide," said Tugrul Atamer, Executive Chairman of the World Entrepreneurship Forum
The first day of the forum also had 'Oasis 500 Investor Connect' conducting an investment pitching session for interested entrepreneurs. A special Policy Lab session intended to crowd-source feedback and ideas on making entrepreneurial ecosystems friendlier to entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs will be the highlight of the second day of the Forum on the 9th of December.
Wamda, the entrepreneurial empowerment platform for the Middle East and North Africa, is organising a 'Mix and Mentor' event for selected start-ups alongside the Forum. The event will be led by distinguished mentors including Fadi Ghandour, Founder of Aramex.