First graduation for Dubai Entrepreneurship Academy

A total of 104 students – 57 men, 47 women – received accreditation from the Dubai Entrepreneurship Academy.

The first batch of students at the Dubai Entrepreneurship Academy during their graduation yesterday. Christopher Pike / The National
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The UAE has added another component to its start-up eco-system with the launch of the Dubai Entrepreneurship Academy.

The academy combined its official launch yesterday with the graduation of its first cohort of students in the entrepreneurship diploma, and the professional hospitality and restaurant management certificate programmes. A total of 104 students – 57 men, 47 women – received accreditation.

Attempting to wean the population off government jobs and concerned about the supply of private-sector jobs in the future, the Government is increasingly focused on introducing or backing initiatives to encourage entrepreneurship. The latest initiative focuses on education.

“The [start-up] eco-system in Dubai historically was there but it needs tweaking and there are some missing elements to it,” said Dubai SME’s chief executive Abdulbaset Al Janahi. “The biggest component is education because it is where the pipeline of entrepreneurs will be created.”

The academy aims to attract those who want to start their own businesses but are anxious about making the leap or don’t yet have skills such as knowing how to put together a business plan. The courses offer focus on the practical aspects of starting and running a company, Mr Al Janahi said.

The academy has a large pool of seasoned entrepreneurs to call on to share their experiences, given its links with Dubai SME. Successful businesses that got initial support from the organisation include Just Falafel and PappaRoti, two food chains that have expanded internationally.

Jassim Albastaki, a Dubai SME alumnus and the founder of the Cafe2go chain, was present at the ceremony. He was invited to lecture at the academy during the first term on what entrepreneurs need to succeed.

These ranged from a solid business plan to plenty of energy, to knowing how to access finance and staying positive in the face of failure, he said.

“We [entrepreneurs] have failed many times,” he said. “We can share our real experiences with them and offer advice on how to tackle the obstacles they will meet.”

Graduates from the course have already submitted their business plans to Dubai SME in the hope of receiving start-up funds.

Having graduated its first students, the academy plans to expand the number of courses it offers.

“We have a busier calendar for the year ahead and we will continue to add sector-specific and industry-relevant programmes, including training, online resources and e-learning programmes,” Mr Al Janahi said.

There will be a certificate programme in professional retail business management and the calendar also includes programmes on: how to attract funds and grow your business; secrets of effective leadership for entrepreneurs; being a successful negotiator in entrepreneurship; and how to build a global brand.