By Mohamed Hareb Al Otaiba / Entrepreneur Middle East - Image Credit: Shutterstock
Never underestimate the power of young innovators. This is an issue about which I am passionate, not least because the world of business was thrust upon me at such a young age. We know that the new generation of entrepreneurs will be the leaders of tomorrow, so what can we do to help them reach their goals and drive us towards a better future?
Whether we are creating mentorship programs, collaborating with educational establishments, or putting forward strong entrepreneurial role models– there is much more we can do. With that in mind, what follows is not only a look at the framework already in place but also some suggestions of my own around entrepreneurial education and creating a better future for the next generation of business leaders and the UAE economy in general.
Why is entrepreneurial education vital?
Business experts have previously noted that entrepreneurship is an essential ingredient in economic growth. Without young, innovative leaders, new ventures and enterprises would not exist. Every year, up to 10,944 new businesses are registered here in Abu Dhabi, according to national statistics. Startups play a major role in the ever-growing landscape of our economy.
It is, therefore, crucial that we, the present-day CEOs, are of service to fledgling entrepreneurs.
There are already systems and initiatives in place which aid in this very process. As one of the leading global business hubs, the UAE is certainly progressive when it comes to this matter. However, there is, of course, opportunity for us to improve and build on the current mode since there are doubtless some obstacles that still stand in a young entrepreneurs way.
So, let’s first understand the excellent work which is being undertaken by the UAE government, the programmes and initiatives already in place, and then examine how we might add to this in the future.
UAE initiatives to encourage new entrepreneurs
Growing new business is at the very heart of the UAE ethos, and so it’s logical that this is an endeavor which the government and independent entities support. In recent years, we’ve noted many initiatives which aimed to spark young people’s interest in the world of business.
Some of the most notable ones so far have include:
Expo 2020’s Youth Connect The annual Expo 2020 Dubai provides ample opportunity for the UAE to expand and nurture its business network. One of the most forward-thinking initiatives that this event has seen is Youth Connect. The scheme reflects the belief that "young people are the innovators and thought leaders of tomorrow," and consists of lectures and workshops. Over time, this initiative has grown and developed into a solid framework for young people. Last year, Expo 2020 Dubai also saw the launch of the Apprenticeship Program. The scheme, which would give recent graduates experience in the professional sphere, received thousands of applications and has so far taken the 27 successful candidates through a nine-month program.
UAE Government Leaders "UAE Youth" Targeting 21 to 30 year-olds, the UAE Youth program is a progressive initiative developed in cooperation with the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs. Once accepted into the eight-month long course, young people will be privy to a syllabus of workshops and support. The core features of this particular scheme include everything from "social skills" and "future thought" to "happiness and positivity" and "global challenges." The notion here is that the course will allow innovative young people to have a rounded education in business.
Young Arab Leaders (YAL) One of the most intriguing not-for-profit business groups registered under the Dubai Chamber, the Young Arab Leaders helps support and develop young talented people in our part of the world. In their own words, this means "unlocking the expertise and resources of a regional support network." The all-encompassing system offers everything from workshops to guidance which should help young people prepare themselves to enter "a culture of entrepreneurship and leadership."
The du Youth Council Launched in August this year, as part of the International Youth Day Celebration, the du Youth Council is perhaps the newest scheme offering help and education to young entrepreneurs. The initiative allows a board of young innovators to bring new ideas to the telecoms company du, and then provides a proper process for these ideas to be evaluated. The target is to "enhance their contribution towards the nation’s development through ICT and the enormous potential this sector holds."