With the main theme of “Dare To Be Different,” this year’s event includes enhancements to the program attendees have come to enjoy since last year’s inaugural event, all of which will be noticeable throughout the event’s three tracks: Dare To Dream, Dare To Innovate, and Dare To Go Global.
With an aim to provide a curated view of both Sharjah’s and the wider region’s key entrepreneurship-related developments over the past year, the event’s motivational keynotes, knowledge-sharing panels, and interactive discussions and workshops will feature both regional and international leaders, experts, and decision makers from government, academia, technology, business, and other key sectors.
SharjahEF will also play host to Startup Town again this year, which will be accepting entries from the region’s most impactful startups to showcase themselves at the festival, and also compete in SharjahEF’s Pitch Competition for a chance to win prizes totalling AED100,000.
The 2018 edition of The Seffy Awards – initiated last year by H.E. Sheikha Bodour Al Qassimi as a "tribute to rule-breaking, status quo-questioning entrepreneurs that are based in the UAE” – will again be handed out at SharjahEF to the most promising locally-based entrepreneurs in three different categories.
H.E. Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa, commented, “Our aim with SharjahEF this year is to get our attendees to think beyond the status quo when it comes to their careers, lives, and businesses. This can range from them following through on their entrepreneurial dreams, rethinking how they go about doing business today, or even reimagining their local enterprise as a global one- essentially, we want them to ‘dare to be different.’”
H.E. Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City (Shams), emphasized that Sharjah Media City’s commitment to participating in the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival is part of its efforts, in line with the vision of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to contribute to building a dynamic community and an ideal environment for entrepreneurship and innovation. He stressed that Shams is proud to be a vital and active strategic partner of Sheraa in its various activities and businesses.
Dr. Al Midfa added, “Sharjah Media City was established to support and empower young people and provide them with the knowledge and tools of creativity and innovation. We are dedicated to utilizing all resources, in collaboration with various entrepreneurship foundations and innovation sectors, to contribute to achieving creative entrepreneurship and inspire business development. We, at Shams, support a dynamic community to innovate, live, learn and create together. Therefore, naturally, we find ourselves a contributing entity to this unique gathering of entrepreneurs. May Allah help us in playing a key role in making this event a success.”
Commenting on Sharjah Islamic Bank’s support of SharjahEF, H.E. Jassim Albaloushi, Head of Organizational Excellence, Sharjah Islamic Bank, said, “Since its inception, the Bank has been an active partner in every community initiative that supports youth, through providing young entrepreneurs with all forms of support to enable them to turn their ideas into projects that positively impact development. This is in line with the visions and directions of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, the spiritual father of youth and the main supporter of their innovations. The Bank’s golden partnership with the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival is part of its strategy to contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the 2021 National Agenda (regarding the article on innovative knowledge-based economy), and specifically to achieve the objectives under this article, pertaining to progress achieved in the Global Entrepreneurship Index (ranked 7 report 2017), and increasing the proportion of SME contribution to the non-oil GDP (49% according to 2016 report).”
Commenting on Sharjah Asset Management being a Gold Partner for SharjahEF, Alya Al Hebshi, Manager of Corporate Communication Center, Sharjah Asset Management, said, “Arab and Emirati entrepreneurs have successfully carved a niche for themselves during the last few years at the local and global landscape, making us all proud of their achievements. At Sharjah Asset Management, we believe that entrepreneurs are one of the pivotal axes of any economy, and they need adequate support and an integrated advisory system to turn their ideas into successful businesses. As the investment arm of the Government of Sharjah, we at Sharjah Asset Management look forward to building a competitive economy in the emirate through embracing and qualifying entrepreneurs of all sizes and categories. We also aim to promote education and development and foster entrepreneurship in the emirate through various initiatives, of which the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival is the perfect platform to extend our support to the entrepreneurs.”
Najla Al Ansari, Manager SEF, added, “With the 2018 SharjahEF, we are hoping to provide value in a variety of formats to all who attend the festival. Be it with our line-up of inspirational speakers, or with the interactive hands-on workshops that we’ve got scheduled, SharjahEF this year promises to be an exhilarating, informative experience for everyone, whether it be those who have just a kernel of an idea for a business, or even experienced hands looking to do things differently.