x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Classes for would-be businesspeople start at Abu Dhabi University

ADU aims to foster new entrepreneurs with a step by step look at what is necessary to start up their ideas.

Mohammed al Neaim of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, speaks to the students of a new course, Starting a Business, at ADU.
Mohammed al Neaim of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, speaks to the students of a new course, Starting a Business, at ADU.

ABU DHABI // A new custom-made course that passes hands-on experience to would-be entrepreneurs is the latest addition to Abu Dhabi University's (ADU) plan of creating a culture of young businesspeople to advance the capital's 2030 economic vision.

The producers of this new course call what they do "directing business incubators" - showing students how to start up a business, from the kernel of an idea to opening the shop doors.

Rima Shaban, the operations manager of ADU's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre, said: "We have the right to customise the content [of the course] to fit the local business, economic and legal environment, and we are trying to transfer our experience to the students."

Professor Mark Bradley, who teaches the course, which is called "Starting a Business", said: "To make sure that some of the content is originally supplied by the course, we've put our own spin and our own information - I was doing this for over 20 years."

Ms Shaban and Prof Bradley have plenty of experience in directing business incubators, and they are helping students create their own business plans through the interactive course, with the ultimate aim of creating strong small and medium-sized enterprises.

Professor Bradley said: "I think it's a good course, as its information is tailored to the local Abu Dhabi environment, and also to the UAE as a whole. It's different to set up a business in Abu Dhabi than in Dubai for instance."

Launched last month, the classes look at the "pre-incubation phase" - what's needed to get started - and will run until January 29.

ADU is planning to set up two new courses, "Growing a Business" and "I-exec", along with an online course in the coming months.

A class on the next phase, or "full incubation", is expected to begin next year.

"We're using this course to promote the idea of entrepreneurship and to make people think that it's not something impossible," said Ms Shaban.

"I think people here are very entrepreneurial and they are willing to start their own business, but they need guidance for research and education on the skills to start in the right way."

The Cisco Entrepreneur Institute is also a part of this phase of the programme at ADU. "We thought that having a curriculum that is well tried and implemented in other places is very good for the centre," Ms Shaban said.

ADU also introduces students in the course to potential investors, and has partnered with the Khalifa Fund, which offers support to develop small and medium-sized enterprises.

"We are not looking to offer a ready-made curriculum; we want to offer the UAE experience in this course," Ms Shaban said.

"Entrepreneurship is not about certificates, it's more about what you can implement and how you implement it."

The classes contain up to 20 students each and run for 44 hours over six weeks, with classes each Saturday. Courses are open to all.

Mubarak al Mansouri, a 27-year-old Emirati who graduated from ADU two years ago with a degree in business administration, is hoping to start an Indian/European restaurant in his hometown of Al Ain by the end of the course.

"They help you do what you want, step by step, through every process, and it helps your company stand on its feet," said Mr al Mansouri. "They provide you with trustworthy contacts, control with your budget and directions. They're small things that we need to know and it's really something to rely on."

Omer Lopez, a 23-year-old Portuguese student living in Khalifa City, plans on opening his own consultancy firm in Abu Dhabi.

"My instructor, Mark, already has experience in studying businesses and how to run them successfully, so not only does he support us with theory but he provides us with practical advice," said Mr Lopez, a final-year marketing student at ADU.

cmalek@thenational.ae