x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

A boost to young business minds

From a young Emirati opening his own restaurant to a Portuguese student setting up a consultancy firm, the spirit of entrepreneurship is on the rise in the UAE.

From a young Emirati opening his own restaurant to a Portuguese student setting up a consultancy firm, the spirit of entrepreneurship is on the rise in the UAE. The Government's educational and financial support for those with new ideas means that the country's young talent is getting a generous helping hand.

As The National reported yesterday, a new course that passes hands-on experience to would-be entrepreneurs is the latest addition to Abu Dhabi University's (ADU) curriculum. It is the school's latest effort to show students how their ideas can contribute to Abu Dhabi's 2030 economic vision.

The course is "tailored to the local Abu Dhabi environment, and also to the UAE as a whole", said Mark Bradley, a professor teaching "Starting a Business" at ADU. For many in the Emirates, especially in the coastal region, a mercantile and entrepreneurial tradition has deep roots. Families prospered for centuries developing the trade of textiles, pearls and dates, to name just a few indigenous enterprises.

The ADU programme is also not the only effort to carry on these traditions. The Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders in Dubai, and the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre at the Khalifa Fund in Abu Dhabi, which currently receives 1,500 applications a year, are also at the forefront of this movement. In November, Wamda, a new website and funding programme, was launched by Abraaj Capital to provide a support network for start-up companies.

These initiatives will help equip young talent, whether Emirati or expatriate, with the insight they need to succeed, or at least, to get started. The road to turning a good idea into a good business is full of obstacles. Only a small fraction of new businesses survive the first year. Entrepreneurs need support when they launch a project but also when they are forced by failure to start all over again. Persistence and an ability to learn from mistakes are traits that all great entrepreneurs share.

The Government's on-going Emiratisation efforts will depend on developing these attributes in the nation's youth. In nearly every dynamic economy, it is small businesses that create the most jobs. The UAE Government has drawn the map but it is up to entrepreneurs to chart the economy's growth for the long term.