Dubai boasts strong entrepreneurial ecosystem for women
For women entrepreneurs to succeed, they need the support of incubators, mentors, and role models, experts said
Dubai has proudly hosted a number of success stories for women that are looking to launch their own businesses, and the city welcomes women with an entrepreneurial spirit from all around the world, experts said at a recent event.
Speaking at a webinar organised by the Dubai Chamber on Wednesday, which explored the role of women in leading digital transformation in the retail industry, experts from Dubai and Brazil highlighted several topics such as shopper loyalty, changing consumer behaviours, and the role of social media in retail.
In his opening session, Omar Khan, director of International Offices at Dubai Chamber, highlighted how Dubai has been a home for many inspiring entrepreneurs.
“As a smart city, we are always looking at how we can do better,” he said. “This has been a theme of Dubai and the UAE for many years now. Women in the UAE have taken critical roles in not only leading businesses, but also launching new businesses in several sectors. Dubai, in particular, inspires entrepreneurs not just in the UAE, but around the world.”
Khan added that the UAE’s trade ties with Brazil have always been strong one, and that the country is looking forward to strengthening those ties. “Innovation happens everywhere in the world, which is why we always invite entrepreneurs to come to Dubai to share their ideas, transform them, and then make them happen. This is the time for startups and innovators, especially women to take charge and fulfil their potential.”
Natalia Sycheva, manager of Entrepreneurship at Dubai Startup Hub, pointed out that the number of women CEOs in Fortune 500 companies has doubled since 2010, but they still make up only seven per cent of these companies. “We have to do better. For women to succeed, we need to support them with incubators, mentors, and role models, and when they launch their business, we need to help them scale up through accelerators, investors, and B2B opportunities. Dubai has built a very strong entrepreneurial ecosystem for women.”
Leena Khalil, co-founder and CCO of Mumzworld, noted that Dubai has something for everyone.
“The city has a very familiar feel that makes everyone feel at ease,” she said. “It is also a great place to bring your family and get them settled. The large number of nationalities living here means that everybody feels welcome, whether you are launching a business or simply here for leisure.”
When it comes to digital transformation and taking brands online, Shatha Essa, founder and creative director at Shatha Essa, pointed to social media being a key element for success.
Speaking about her brand and its success, she said that Instagram has been a hotspot for driving demand for products. “Online for us has been huge. We are one of the best-selling UAE brands on social media right now. In addition to Instagram, we have also seen whatsapp play a huge role in our sales.”
While online is definitely the future of retail, she also pointed out that there are several other elements that businesses need to focus on such as building customer loyalty. “As a product, we rely on the quality of our product and word of mouth. That is how we have built our customer base – on the loyalty of our happy customers.”
DMCC extends huge support programme
The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) announced an extension to its Business Support Package until October 20.
The programme, aimed at helping DMCC-based companies to better navigate the turmoil unleashed by Covid-19 epidemic, comprises a wide range of discounts and waivers to support the DMCC’s registered companies, the commodities trading hub said in a statement. The package, which includes discounts on licence renewals and 100 per cent waiver of penalties, is being extended as the commodities hub drew 805 new companies to its business district in the first half of 2020 despite the gloom cast by the lockdown restrictions.
Ahmed bin Sulayem, executive chairman and CEO of the DMCC, said as the largest free zone in the UAE, the decision to extend the package is set to boost Dubai’s economic resilience at this critical time and ensure that the emirate remains the chosen place for doing business in the months and years to come.
“Dubai has been able to maintain its position as a global business hub and we have good cause to remain optimistic about the future. Our visionary leadership continues to take decisive action to safeguard public health and ensure the resilience of our national economy,” said Bin Sulayem.
The range of discounts applicable to various types of licences to the DMCC’s existing 17,500 member companies include 25 per cent discount on three-year renewal; 20 per cent discount on two-year renewal; 10 per cent discount on one-year renewal; 10 per cent discount on all expired in 2020 renewal; 100 per cent waiver of late renewal penalties; 100 per cent waiver of the office sharing permit fee; and 100 per cent waiver on change of address fee for relocating from a physical office to the DMCC Business Centre.
Other concessions include a 50 per cent waiver of the company reinstatement fee, applicable if the licence was terminated by the authority due to non-licence renewal; 50 per cent waiver of dormancy fees; 30 per cent discount on additional licence; and two-month suspension of rent for Flexi Desk and DMCC Business Centre tenants’ renewals or monthly/quarterly installment with no discount.
Ahmad Hamza, executive director for free zone at the DMCC, said the entire business community has been the entity’s top priority, and will remain so as businesses enter this new phase of recovery.
“By extending our Business Support Package, we enhance the ease of doing business, which in turn ensures that Dubai and DMCC continue to be the destination of choice for businesses, entrepreneurs and people alike.”
In addition, the DMCC has partnered with Emirates NBD to offer new and existing member companies the opportunity to convert payments into flexible and interest-free installments. The commodities free zone also introduced a 50 per cent reduction in business setup fees for all diamond-related companies alongside a free 12-month membership of the Dubai Diamond Exchange valid until September 30.
The discounts for diamond-related firms comes in the wake of two major tie-ups the DMCC has announced. These include a collaboration agreement with China’s Guangzhou Diamond Exchange to establish a strategic partnership and with the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) based in Tel Aviv.
Abu Dhabi Economic Cooperation Committee sets goals, work programmes
The Economic Cooperation Committee in Abu Dhabi has set its strategic objectives, tasks and work programmes as it moves to the next phase following its creation under a decision issued by Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Executive Council and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office.
The committee, which includes members from public and private sectors, seeks to strengthen and empower the latter and enhance its contribution to the sustainable economic development of Abu Dhabi.
Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, ADDED, headed the committee’s first meeting which was held virtually. In attendance were Falah Al Ahbabi, chairman of the Department of Municipalities and Transport, DMT; Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, DCT Abu Dhabi; Dr. Tariq Bin Hendi, director general of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, ADIO; and 22 representatives from private and semi-private companies.
During the meeting, Al Shorafa reiterated the Abu Dhabi Government’s constant efforts to enhance the role and participation of the private sector in achieving the emirate’s sustainable economic development. The committee’s work groups focus on seven strategic sectors, namely: funding and financial affairs; infrastructure, construction and building; industry and trade; tourism and services; education and technology; health; and small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs.
Al Shorafa noted that the committee will further strengthen the cooperation between government, semi-government and private sector entities and accelerate Abu Dhabi’s economic agenda. It also represents a specialised economic platform for partners in the public and private sectors aimed at facilitating existing collaboration and attaining economic growth in the emirate based on knowledge, diversity, and sustainability.
He explained that the Economic Cooperation Committee will review and evaluate the concerns and requirements of the targeted economic sectors as well as study the best approaches to boost their growth such as proposing policies, strategies, systems and regulations in line with the emirate’s economic diversification efforts to increase development in the private sector. He further highlighted that the committee will help enhance the communication among partners in the public and private sectors and thereby promote transparency, open discussions, and knowledge sharing.
“The current circumstances brought about by the coronavirus pandemic which many countries are facing have prompted the committee to double its efforts and find solutions, initiatives, and enablers that will help organizations tackle challenges and difficulties. We emphasize the importance of following the directives of the Abu Dhabi Government’s leadership aimed at ensuring the continuity of economic growth across non-oil sectors and enhancing their contribution in the emirate’s gross domestic product, GDP,” Al Shorafa stated.
He concluded that these directives are focused on promoting the role of the private sector as a key driver in Abu Dhabi’s local economic system and strengthening its partnership with the government sector which will provide investment opportunities, implement development projects and execute a stimulus package of initiatives and incentives that support private sector companies.
The committee discussed the tasks and responsibilities of various work teams and the means of implementation, including the role of research and consultation teams who will conduct analytical studies and develop several economic indicators for the targeted economic sectors and thereby enable the committee to come up with key recommendations and initiate decisions.
In addition, the meeting explored employing digital platforms dedicated for stakeholders to ensure the continuity of joint coordination, work and meetings and to help achieve the committee’s goals. The proposal seeks to facilitate the success of the set projects and programs being implemented by various work teams, as well as monitor and evaluate their performance which can contribute to the further enhancement of Abu Dhabi’s local economic system.
The key role of the government sector in supporting targeted economic sectors and its recommendations for the formulation of strategies, policies, rules and regulations based on latest economic data and indicators were also on the meeting’s agenda, and are being viewed as a key support to decisions that would foster economic diversification and expansion of the private sector in Abu Dhabi.
Strong rebound likely for Indian economy in 2021-22: ADB
The ADB expects India’s economy to contract by 9 per cent in 2020-21 as against the 4 per cent forecast made in June.
The Indian economy, after a deeper-than-expected contraction in the current fiscal, will make a strong rebound in fiscal year 2021-22 with the gross domestic product (GDP) recording 8 per cent surge as mobility and business activities resume more widely, the Asian Development Bank said on Tuesday.
Revising downwards its estimate for the GDP in the current 2020-21 fiscal, the ADB expects India’s economy to contract by 9.0 per cent as against the 4.0 per cent forecast made in June as the Covid-19 pandemic weighs heavily on economic activity and consumer sentiment in the country.
In its Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2020 ppdate, the bank said India’s growth outlook remains highly vulnerable to either a prolonged outbreak or a resurgence of cases, with the country now having one of the highest number of Covid-19 cases globally. India had recorded over 4.9 million cases as of September 13, just behind the US which has over 6.5 million cases.
The revision comes on the back of several other forecasts projecting a bleaker outlook for Asia’s third largest economy in the current fiscal year. Latest to sound the alarm bells for the economy include S&P Ratings, Goldman Sachs, Fitch Ratings, Moody’s and Nomura. They have changed their forecasts to a sharper contraction of between 9.0 per cent and 11.5 per cent for India in the current financial year as against their earlier expectations. India’s economy shrank 23.9 per cent year-over-year in the March to June period, larger than most analysts expected.
“India imposed strict lockdown measures to contain the spread of the pandemic and this has had a severe impact on economic activity,” said ADB chief economist Yasuyuki Sawada.
“It is crucial that containment measures, such as robust testing, tracking, and ensuring treatment capacities, are implemented consistently and effectively to stop the spread of Covid-19 and provide a sustainable platform for the economy’s recovery for the next fiscal year and beyond,” he said.
India’s current account deficit is forecast to shrink to 0.3 per cent of GDP this fiscal year, then widen to 0.6 per cent of GDP in FY2021 with exports expected to recover as global growth rebounds.
ADB said rising non-performing loans caused by the pandemic that could further weaken the financial sector and its ability to support economic growth, while increasing public and private debt levels could affect technology and infrastructure investment.
The bank, which flagged other downside risks including contraction of investment as investors remain deterred by heightened risks and uncertainties, while private consumption may continue to suffer, said government initiatives to address the pandemic, including the rural employment guarantee program and other social protection measures, will aid rural incomes protecting the vulnerable people.
“The fiscal deficit is expected to rise significantly in FY2020 as government revenues fall and expenditures rise,” ADB said.
The upside is likely to be inflation which is expected to fall in the remainder of FY2020-21 to 4.5 per cent with tamed food prices and decreased economic activity, and then further decline to 4.0 per cent in FY2021-22.
The bank, which had rolled out an assistance package of $20 billion to help its developing members counter the severe impacts caused by the pandemic, said several government-initiated reforms in response to the Covid -19 pandemic that focused on enhancing agriculture markets, upgrading industrial park infrastructure, and implementing the National Infrastructure Pipeline would promote foreign investment, incentivise global supply chains to re-allocate to India, and create manufacturing hubs across the country.