DUBAI // Live, online workshops will offer free training to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from next month.
Classes in the three-month SME Evolution Programme, set up to nurture SMEs in the region, start on March 14 and will run every Monday and Wednesday evening for one hour.
Shadi Banna, a managing partner of Potential, a consultancy service for start-up businesses, is organising the programme.
"The benefit of the programme when you do it in a live interactive format is that it becomes low-cost," said Mr Banna. "You're also able to bring in a lot of expertise from all over the place so you can basically hook up people in a very cost-effective way."
The programme will tutor SME owners in areas such as human resources, online presence and e-commerce.
The programme's regional partners, which include Aramex, Google and Zawya, will provide expertise on logistics and market research.
Mr Banna said that classes would be split into two. The first half would be covered by one of the programme's consultants and would include a brainstorming session and other exercises. Participants would be able to ask questions. The second half would be dedicated to an entrepreneurial guest speaker.
Ivan Kraemer, another partner at Potential, said: "This live interactive learning is a higher quality than e-learning because it's as close to being there as it can possibly get.
"It reaches people and no one's been able to do this before due to a lack of technology."
Potential is also launching the programme in Lebanon and Qatar.
"We've divided the programme into waves until September 2011," said Mr Banna. "After that we will expand to other countries in the Mena region."
Adnan Ghanem, 47, a Jordanian entrepreneur who has been in Dubai for 20 years and owns the information technology company Pronet, is one of those who have signed up for the first class in Dubai. "I think it's a very good idea because, first of all, people are shy to say they need help and advice and the programme gives you everything you require to make sure you are on the right track," he said.
"It's definitely needed for SMEs here because 85 per cent of the market in Dubai is made up of SMEs so people realise they cannot ignore this sector. It's what is making the economy here and this is why the government is supporting it."
Mr Kraemer said: "The buzz of SMEs is starting now. There are too many people and not enough jobs."
Interested companies must have been established at least two years and can register at www.potential.com to receive a curriculum.