ACADEMY TURNED OUT AN INNOVATIVE RESPONSE TO THE PANDEMIC CHALLENGE IN 2020, CONDUCTED 135 DIVERSE PROGRAMS AND SAW A 70% INCREASE IN PARTICIPATION COMPARED TO 2019 Dubai SME on Tuesday unveiled plans to foster entrepreneurial skills among the corporates as well as support this year aspiring entrepreneurs and enable business continuity among start-ups. Dubai SME, an agency of Dubai Economy — Department of Economic Development, Government of Dubai — aims to foster an entrepreneurial culture and develop a competitive SME sector for the Emirate of Dubai. It is mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector in the emirate through its subsidiaries such as its educational arm Dubai Entrepreneurship Academy (DEA), which has launched a series of programmes for the first half of 2021 following on from its novel initiatives to enable SMEs and future entrepreneurs to successfully navigate and overcome unprecedented challenges. The academy trained 11, 264 people in 2020, reflecting a 70 per cent year-on-year growth due to the Covid-19 pandemic that hit every sector of the economy and society. It also increased number of programmes to 135 from 124 in 2019 and 92 per cent of the participants were satisfied with the quality and services of the academy. Positioning start-ups for sustainable growth Saeed Matar Al Marri, deputy CEO of Dubai SME, said the Dubai Entrepreneurship Academy continues to draw inspiration from the vision and directives of the wise leadership in providing an incubating environment for entrepreneurial talent and accelerating start-up growth. “The academy is also committed to providing a set of specialised knowledge and skills that meet the needs of the community and enable it to promote economic development in Dubai and enhance the emirate’s position as a vibrant business centre,” he said. For the next six months the academy has charted out a series of programmes aimed to impart education and training on pursuing innovation and positioning start-ups for sustainable growth. A highlight of the calendar is a three-month ‘Certified Professional Entrepreneurship Diploma’ programme being launched in partnership with the American University in Dubai (AUD). DEA, along with the Commercial Compliance & Consumer Protection (CCCP) Sector in Dubai Economy, had also launched a ‘Masters’ Programme in Intellectual Property Management and Innovation’ in partnership with AUD in 2020 to empower aspiring entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into sustainable business and attract more investment into such ventures. Shailesh Dash, a Dubai-based financier and entrepreneur, said knowledge and experience are key to development of skilled manpower in any country, but if it can be channelled to more innovation and entepreneurship skills among the youngsters then the Dubai economy can rival all vibrant economies around the world. “The leadership team of Dubai and UAE have been continuously working towards making it the home to startups and new ideas. This new partnership course will actually accelerate that process by encouraging skilled manpower to hone their business skills further before going ahead with their startups,” he said. Empowering SMEs and entrepreneurs Ibtihal Al Naji, director of Dubai Entrepreneurship Academy, said the goal of DEA is to equip aspiring entrepreneurs with the capabilities required to launch their projects and grow them in a way that shapes the future of business locally, regionally and internationally. “We have had a hectic year engaging with the start-up community and entrepreneurs despite the Covid-19 crisis. The online consultations and training programmes we offered in 2021 marked a significant step in the digital transformation of the SME ecosystem in Dubai. Dubai Entrepreneurship Academy seeks to empower SMEs and consolidate smart practices for their advantage,” Al Naji said. Varied programmes to identify entrepreneurial talent The academy will also continue to conduct varied programmes to identify entrepreneurial talent and promote entrepreneurship as a career alternative among younger generations in partnership with higher educational institutions, ministry of education, ministry of human resources and Emiratisation and Federal Youth Authority. The 2021 calendar of the academy includes diverse programmes with focus on nurturing future entrepreneurs and equipping start-ups to identify opportunities in the new normal and foresee challenges. Th training programmes scheduled for the first half of the year include ‘Business optimisation in an uncertain world, and Reset: Adjust your strategy now for renewed future state (in partnership with Amity University),’ ‘Rethinking financial planning for SMEs (in partnership with PWC),’ ‘Innovation in the face of disruption: How to lead from the modern future,’ ‘Towards an Ideal supply chain management,’ Customer service secrets in the survival market,’ ‘,’ ‘Strategic thinking & digital solution,’ and ‘Flexible leadership & strategic foresight development tools.’ The academy will also offer a course in ‘The perfect funding pitch’ and continue its ‘Professional Certificate in Tender Management’ programme during the first half of 2021. The programme in tender management takes SME owners through the most important steps in managing tenders, preparing technical and financial presentations efficiently, and marketing their capabilities in addition to identifying the procurement procedures and contracts of government agencies. DEA focuses on programmes specifically designed to meet the needs of entrepreneurs in the country, including citizens and residents, in addition to establishing innovative platforms that bring together business leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs to share knowledge and best practices. The Academy has been able to contribute substantially towards creating a new generation of entrepreneurs and inspiring SMEs in Dubai to grow and participate actively in developing a stable and sustainable economy in the emirate.