It has been talked about for some time, but appears to have finally happened. The UAE's various emirate-level schemes to back entrepreneurs have linked up and gone national.
We're been reporting on this process for a while -
- and it is certainly good news. The National Network for Small and Medium Enterprises will be unveiled in Sharjah next Wednesday, with the federal Minister of Economy and the Ruler of Sharjah both taking part in the launch.
Right now, each emirate has a program, typically in the name of its Ruler, that gives cash, support and advice to Emirati entrepreneurs. These schemes have incubated some pretty decent companies, but they tend to remain a little parochial and fixed within their own emirate.
By linking up each of these programs in a national framework, some of that hometown company vibe should be overcome. The exact details of how the national network will work have yet to be announced, but should include some kind of standard set of support services that will be offered across the country, meaning a RAK entrepreneur would get similar support opening shop in Abu Dhabi, etc.
The network includes the entrepreneurship funds of the UAE's four major economic centres: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and RAK. This is another positive step for the whole entrepreneurs-as-economic-stimulus thing. The next big one will be when the funds develop an approach for supporting non-Emirati startups.