SHARJAH - Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, has visited Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa) to explore the emirate’s growing startup ecosystem and Sheraa’s founder-focused approach to ecosystem building, as well as connect with some of UAE’s top startups supported by Sheraa.

Al Falasi engaged with 40 of Sheraa’s portfolio startups in an open roundtable discussion on the challenges and opportunities for early and growth-stage companies in the UAE, tackling pressing topics such as financing and funding gaps, corporate and public partnerships, and founder-friendly policies and regulations.

The visit also provided startups with a unique opportunity to showcase their entrepreneurial journeys and their contributions to transforming the UAE.

The five startups included, an Arabic e-learning platform; Rise, a wealth management app and platform for migrants; Joi Gifts, an e-commerce gifting platform;, the newly launched Sharjah-incubated adventure and tourist activities booking website; and The Concept, a startup that specialises in creating eco-friendly hardware and technology solutions for clients.

During the visit, Sheraa’s CEO Najla Al Midfa presented the centre’s five-year impact report titled 'The Rise of an Ecosystem: 5 Years of Creating Impact 2016-2020', which detailed how Sheraa’s founder-first philosophy drove Sharjah’s transformation into an entrepreneur-friendly and impact-driven entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The report offers insights into Sheraa’s emergence as a key pillar of the UAE’s ecosystem where it has impacted a community of over 17,000 changemakers across sectors, placing Sharjah strongly on the global startup map.

By empowering founders to develop globally competitive, sustainable companies in priority market sectors, Sheraa has been fueling Sharjah’s long-term strategy of driving impact and achieving high economic growth through inclusive policies designed to transform communities.

The 114 startups supported by Sheraa during the past five years have created over 1,300 jobs, and have registered a 65 percent survival rate. Notably, 48 percent of Sheraa-supported startups are led by females, driving the emirate’s efforts at economic diversification.

Addressing the attendees, Dr. Al Falasi said, "The Ministry of Economy and our partners are keen to constantly and actively engage with entrepreneurs and SME-owners in the country to find effective solutions to the challenges that businesses face in the post-Covid phase. By working together, we will be able to better capitalise on emerging opportunities; better utilise local funds in supporting entrepreneurs, make their voices heard, and collaborate on development and support programmes at the local and federal levels."

The Minister’s visit comes as part of the Ministry’s efforts to reinforce, develop and grow UAE’s global positioning as one of the top-ranking startup destinations in the world through collaboration with leading startup ecosystem builders such as Sheraa.

Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa, commented, "It was an honour to convene Sheraa’s vibrant community of impact-focused entrepreneurs to engage in an open conversation with Dr. Al Falasi on the UAE’s startup ecosystem. Roundtable discussions like these exemplify Sheraa's founder-first philosophy, and the strong achievements highlighted in our five-year impact report are a testament to what is possible when this ethos is encoded into an ecosystem's DNA." She added, "Under the visionary leadership of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Sheraa reiterates its commitment to establishing Sharjah as an inclusive, entrepreneur-friendly city. This commitment is in line with the UAE's ambition to cement its position as a leading destination for entrepreneurs around the world."

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