Dubai Next offers strong platform to entrepreneurs
The platform — which has already hosted 543 campaigns — is giving start-ups and ideas initiated by both Emirati and international talent, the chance to launch their venture in Dubai.
The small and medium enterprises (SME) sector of any vibrant economy is the nursery of its next generation of entrepreneurs and is usually also a substantial contributor to GDP.
According to a report issued by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, SMEs constitute about 95 per cent of all companies in Dubai, employ 42 per cent of the workforce, and generate 40 per cent of the GDP. Empowering, mentoring, and nurturing, this SME sector is not only significant for Dubai’s current economic health; it is also crucial to ensuring that the emirate thrives in the emerging new global economy.
In recent months, the Dubai administration has launched several new initiatives to foster a future-ready entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Dubai Entrepreneurship Academy (DEA) has launched a three-month ‘Certified Professional Entrepreneurship Diploma’, and a ‘Masters’ Programme in Intellectual Property Management and Innovation’.
The Ministry of Economy has launched the ‘Skill-Up Academy’, to nurture business leadership; the ‘Scale-up Platform’, to support start-ups in their growth; and the ‘Grow in UAE’, platform, which provides up to date information on investment policies and opportunities.
One such initiative, which has garnered a lot of attention, is the ‘Dubai Next’ crowdfunding programme that will decentralise venture capital, the platform has already hosted 543 campaigns, which are giving start-ups and ideas initiated by both Emirati and international talent, the chance to launch their venture in Dubai.
“Dubai has always been the proverbial city of dreams, for innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Prabhu Ramachandran, CEO, and founder of Facilio Inc., the AI-based property operations platform that found a receptive market for its breakthrough technologies in the Emirate. “Identifying the ‘next-big-thing’, or even a great idea that fits the emerging economy can be tricky. The Dubai Next platform not only showcases the next generation of entrepreneurs, it puts them in touch with investors too.”
Crowdfunding has indeed served as a kind of vetting mechanism for start-up ecosystems around the globe, and the Dubai Next platform — the very first official platform of its kind in the emirate – could help entrepreneurs put their ideas to the ultimate test: their target audience.
Ram Mohan, COO and Founder of Rent-A-Towel, a service provider enabling more sustainable linen-management in the hospitality industry, believes Dubai is a particularly receptive market for innovative start-ups. “When we launched our Dr. Linen range, we were introducing an entirely new fiber, apart from a disruptive model for linen-management. The response we got tells me that Dubai is one of the markets most open to new ideas and approaches, globally. The Dubai Next platform could be the perfect way to tap into this appetite for innovation.”
Creating a financing mechanism that is more likely to break with convention, will unlock a brand new avenue for growth, in the Dubai economy. The Dubai Next platform will not only be a shot in the arm for future-ready entrepreneurship, it will add to the volume of employment generated by the SME sector. As Dubai strides boldly into the new economy, its first official crowdfunding platform could be the enabler that unlocks the next generation of unicorn startups, to emerge from the region.
Abhay Pandey, a home-grown entrepreneur who built the techno-consultancy MAST Consulting Group from scratch within the UAE, makes the case that the Dubai Next platform will encourage entrepreneurs to pursue more unique business models. “At our inception, we were a completely self-funded and bootstrapped firm, introducing a new service model, across multiple verticals. A platform like Dubai Next would have been an ideal interface with prospective investors for us, at the time. I believe its launch will enable many more entrepreneurs to take a new and unprecedented business approach and scale better and faster.”
ADB sees Indian economy growing at 10%
The latest economic growth projection for India is lower than the 11 per cent growth forecast in the ADO in April this year.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday revised down its growth projection for the Indian economy to10 per cent during the current fiscal (2021-22) as it lowered developing Asia’s economic growth to 7.2 per cent this year, citing the resurgence of Covid-19 infections in the region.
The Manila-based ADB said in its flagship economic publication, Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2021, released on Tuesday that recovery was underway in “developing Asia”, referring to the bank’s 46 members, including China and India.
In 2022, the bloc’s combined economy is projected to expand 5.4 per cent compared with the April forecast of 5.3 per cent.
The latest economic growth projection for India is lower than the 11 per cent growth forecast in the ADO in April this year. The bank maintained its growth forecast for China at 8.1 per cent this year and 5.5 per cent in 2022.
However, for the next fiscal 2022-23, ADB has, in the latest supplement, raised the economic growth projection for India to 7.5 per cent from 7.0 per cent estimated earlier.
“Asia and the Pacific’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic continues, although the path remains precarious amid renewed outbreaks, new virus variants, and an uneven vaccine rollout,” said ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada. “On top of containment and vaccination measures, phased and strategic rejuvenation of economic activities — for instance, trade, manufacturing, and tourism — will be key to ensure that the recovery is green, inclusive, and resilient.”
The Covid-19 pandemic remains the biggest risk to the outlook, as outbreaks continue in many economies. Daily confirmed cases in the region peaked at about 434,000 in mid-May. They narrowed to about 1,09,000 at the end of June, concentrated mainly in South Asia, South-East Asia, and the Pacific. Meanwhile, the vaccine roll-out in the region is gaining pace, with 41.6 doses administered per 100 people by the end of June — above the global average of 39.2, but below rates of 97.6 in the US and 81.8 in the European Union.
In Southeast Asia, the ADB revised 2021 growth forecasts to 4.1 per cent from 4.5 per cent for Indonesia; 2.0 per cent from 3.0 per cent for Thailand; 5.5 per cent from 6.0 per cent for Malaysia; and 5.8 per cent from 6.7 per cent for Vietnam.
It raised Singapore’s growth projection for this year to 6.3 per cent from 6.0 per cent, but kept the growth outlook for the Philippines at 4.5 per cent.
For 2022, the ADB maintained its growth forecasts for most Southeast Asian economies: 5.0 per cent for Indonesia, 5.7 per cent for Malaysia, 5.5 per cent for the Philippines, 4.1 per cent for Singapore, and 7.0 per cent for Vietnam.
But it raised the growth projection for Thailand to 4.9 per cent for next year from 4.5 per cent.
“On top of containment and vaccination measures, phased and strategic rejuvenation of economic activities – for instance, trade, manufacturing, and tourism – will be key to ensure that the recovery is green, inclusive, and resilient,” Sawada said.
UAE a preferred destination for investors: Director of Pakistan Business Council
Over the past years, the UAE has succeeded in becoming one of the world’s most successful countries in attracting foreign investment due to a range of factors and incentives that earned it its status as a preferred destination for investors.
The UAE boasts a vibrant and prosperous business environment that excels at attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), as it is supported by a legal and legislative infrastructure that protects foreign capital.
In his statement to the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Mustafa Hemani, CEO of the Hemani Group and director of the Pakistan Business Council, stressed that the UAE is the land of promising investment opportunities, as it is powered by the vision of its wise leadership, which helped position it among the world’s fastest growing economies.
Hemani also pointed out that he has lived in Dubai for 36 years and his business in the herbs and spices trade continues to see year-on-year growth, adding that his company trades over 1,000 products and imports herbs from over 83 countries.
Since coming to Dubai in 1995, the Hemani Group now has grown to incorporate five companies in Pakistan, in addition to its headquarters and retail offices in the emirate and a sales office in the United States, he added, noting that the company has over 1,500 employees.
Hemani commended the UAE leadership’s support of investors, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, affirming that the country has successfully dealt with the pandemic and held major conferences, exhibitions and events, while maintaining precautionary measures.
Expo 2020 Dubai, which will be held this year, will undoubtedly be a success thanks to the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, he stressed.
The Pakistan Business Council always strives to strengthen the bilateral trade between the UAE and Pakistan, Hemani said, noting that there are many alluring investment opportunities in the UAE, especially as it is one of the safest countries in the world.
He lauded the UAE’s new residency laws, as well as the laws allowing foreigners to fully own businesses in the country, a step that will surely impact the business community positively and boost investor confidence.
UAE’s liberalisation policy will continue to attract FDI to region: UN
The UAE also received more foreign direct investment in the year of the Covid-19 pandemic when the Emirates was ranked among the world’s top 20 FDI recipient countries
The UAE’s decision to further liberalise its foreign investment regime will continue to attract more foreign direct investment in to the Middle East, according to a new UN report.
“The UAE is further liberalising its foreign investment regime and expanding foreign investors’ access to the domestic economy. This move, combined with continued acquisitions in the oil and gas sector and the implementation of major announced projects in innovative industries is likely to ensure that the country will continue driving FDI to the region,” said World Investment Report 2021 released recently by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
The UAE continued to liberalise its FDI regime with the promulgation of the 2020 FDI Decree, which further facilitated foreign investment by extending some of the free zone incentives to the broader economy. The UAE allowed 100 foreign ownership in mainland businesses from June 1, 2021, eliminating the need for a UAE national to hold the majority share.
The UAE also received more foreign direct investment in the year of the Covid-19 pandemic when the Emirates was ranked among the world’s top 20 FDI recipient countries.
According to UNCTAD total FDI inflows into the UAE reached $20 billion in 2020 as compared to $18 billion in 2019, an increase of over 11 per cent. While FDI outflows from the UAE slowed down from $21 billion in 2019 to $19 billion last year.
Natural resources transactions drove investments in the country, primarily Adnoc’s $10 billion sale of a 49 per cent stake in its natural-gas pipelines to a group of six investors including Global Infrastructure Partners, Brookfield Asset Management and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund.
The UAE also received investments in other industries. For example, some 53 per cent of FDI to the emirate of Dubai in the first half of 2020 was in medium- and high-tech sectors. A key deal was realised in the pharmaceuticals industry, with CCL Pharmaceuticals (Pakistan) acquiring a majority stake in StratHealth Pharma for an undisclosed sum.
The UAE was recently ranked 15th globally and first in the region in Kearney’s 2021 FDI Confidence Index, emerging more favourite destination for foreign investment than Singapore, Norway, Belgium, Austria, South Korea, Denmark, Brazil and Finland, Ireland and Portugal.
According to UNCTAD FDI flows to Middle East increased by nine per cent to $37 billion in 2020.
A significant rise in M&As – 60 per cent to $21 billion – drove this growth, particularly some key acquisitions in natural resource-related projects in some of the region’s main economies. By contrast, the pandemic combined with low energy prices and commodity prices significantly curtailed greenfield investment projects. The impact was particularly severe in the region’s relatively smaller economies, where the needs for investment are the greatest, the UN report said.