Abu Dhabi can attract the 'brightest entrepreneurs' with funding, tech founders say

Creating a venture capital fund for female technology founders will help the emirate 'make a statement', experts at Access Abu Dhabi say

From left, Lisa Mayer, founder and chief executive of Boss Beauties, Genevieve Bos, co-founder and chief revenue officer of Poplar, and Janice Taylor, founder and chief executive of EQ Exchange, at the Access Abu Dhabi event. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
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Granting access to venture capital funding will help Abu Dhabi attract entrepreneurs from across the world and put “innovation on steroids” in the region, according to a senior US technology executive.

“This region has incredible financial resources which can be used as capital. You will attract the best and the brightest entrepreneurs with capital,” Genevieve Bos, co-founder and chief revenue officer of US-based Poplar, a yield-as-a-service company, told the Access Abu Dhabi event on Thursday.

Ms Bos is part of the Women of Web3 delegation, a team of female US tech entrepreneurs who shared their business insights at the event and are exploring Abu Dhabi as a gateway for the global expansion of their companies. The initiative is being carried out by the Abu Dhabi Investment Office and Maven Global Access.

Small and medium enterprises are the backbone of the UAE economy, comprising 98 per cent of the total companies operating in the country.

Abu Dhabi has been taking several steps to enhance the economic climate and boost entrepreneurship since the pandemic. These include reducing the number of requirements to start a business by 71 per cent and slashing business set-up fees by more than 90 per cent.

The number of new economic licences issued in Abu Dhabi rose about 22 per cent in 2021 to 25,427, on the back of the new government initiatives.

“Compared with jurisdictions such as Singapore and Bahamas, the UAE has a strategic location and is geographically well-positioned with good connections to the East and West. Doing cross-border business here is easy for a businessperson,” Ms Bos said.

The emirate is also developing its technology sector as part of efforts to diversify its economy away from oil, with several public sector initiatives driving this forward.

Supporting female technology entrepreneurs will further help the UAE capital increase its global appeal as a hub, Ms Bos said.

“In the US, only 3 per cent to 5 per cent of venture money goes to women-led businesses. If Abu Dhabi really wants to make a statement, create a fund for female tech founders. There are world-class organisations that Abu Dhabi could partner with,” she said.

The Abu Dhabi skyline. Small and medium enterprises are the backbone of the UAE economy, comprising 98 per cent of the total companies operating in the country. Shutterstock

Education and inspiration are important to attract women to Web3, Ms Bos said.

“There are so many entrepreneurs in the UAE who could be dynamic home-grown leaders. They have an opportunity to partner with world-leading organisations. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, they just need to put their own spin to it,” she added.

Venture capital companies usually invest in late-stage companies. However, investing in early-stage companies is very important, said Lisa Mayer, founder and chief executive of Boss Beauties, a global Web3 brand and NFT collection focused on women’s empowerment.

“Focus on building a community that sparks such innovative companies. Abu Dhabi can create an ecosystem to compete in the global innovation economy,” she said.

Updated: May 26, 2022, 2:18 PM