Ahmed Al Mulla, whose catering company Hamburgah aids parties by turning up with a grill and sizzling meat, says Tejar, a Dubai Government programme for entrepreneurs that supports Emiratis who want to launch their own companies, has “made a huge difference” to his business.
He is one of three Emirati entrepreneurs who launched their companies at an event run by Tejar held at the Dubai Chamber yesterday.
“Whenever you start your own business, you are surrounded by fear and people who discourage you,” Mr Al Mulla said. “There is always this fear behind initiating any business. So they give you the support to be confident enough to go through with the business.”
Mr Al Mulla has invested about Dh500,000 in office space, vehicles and cooking stations for his business. But now that his company is looking to move on to “phase two”, Mr Al Mulla needs new cash to grow.
Tejar has introduced Mr Al Mulla to a number of banks, and has offered to guarantee his loans. That means that Hamburgah can benefit from generous terms – a year of deferred repayments and a three-year window in which no interest will be charged. “We will never get those terms anywhere else,” Mr Al Mulla says.
Even though small businesses represent almost 92 per cent of the total number of companies here and provide more than 86 per cent of jobs in the private sector, they account for only about 4 per cent of total bank lending.
Maitha Al Zaabi, an accounting graduate, launched an auditing and consulting company for small and medium enterprises in Dubai after she noticed a business opportunity when talking to friends of hers who had launched their own companies.
“Among my friends who have businesses, they do their business and do not keep up with the accounting. They just do their spending,” she says.
Tejar gave her office space, a business licence and invited her to a number of seminars that Ms Al Zaabi says have been “very beneficial”.
Elaine Ferneley, a specialist on innovation and entrepreneurship policy at Manchester Business School, said award programmes are an effective way to promote innovation.
They “serve a very useful purpose by stimulating business ideas and innovation, and through peer recognition and validation, as well as profile building”, she said. “They also provide a useful source of funds to help start-ups take an idea into implementation.”
“[The government has] to provide support – not just in terms of cash but also infrastructure support – and workforce flexibility,” she added.
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