Expo City Dubai Foundation to help female entrepreneurs create a more sustainable future

Organisation aims to support start-ups working to address global issues including water scarcity and health inequalities

Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation and chief executive of Expo City Dubai Authority, has set out ambitious plans for the Expo City Dubai Foundation. Photo: Expo City Dubai
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A non-government foundation has been established at Expo City Dubai to support female tech entrepreneurs and assist start-ups that aim to tackle social and environmental challenges.

The Expo City Dubai Foundation was launched at an event in the Women’s Pavilion at Expo City Dubai on Thursday. The initiative will set out to empower and help entrepreneurs in the region and the Global South to find sustainable solutions to global challenges.

It will expand the Expo Live programme that began during the world's fair in Dubai, helping people in the UAE and around the globe to boost projects on the climate crisis, water scarcity and inequalities in health services.

Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation, said Expo programmes transformed millions of lives and that the new foundation would continue to support entrepreneurs who were working to bring about change in their communities.

To those whose solutions and innovations we have yet to find, be ready
Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation and chief executive Expo City Dubai Authority

“This marks an important milestone in our journey of transformation from a world event into a city focused on the future well-being of the people and the planet,” said Ms Al Hashimy, chief executive Expo City Dubai Authority.

“To those whose solutions and innovations we have yet to find, be ready. To the young and ambitious here in the UAE, our gates are open and calling for you.”

Focus on women and developing nations

She said the new foundation would “expand on the success of our work to date, to represent, both domestically and abroad, our spirit of solidarity and determination towards a fair and sustainable future, reflecting our nation’s proud tradition of giving and helping others".

Expo programmes supported 191 ventures from 92 countries. Initiatives included using technology to help people with disabilities in Argentina find work, the reintroduction of traditional crops to regenerate soil in Ghana, and research into desert greening in the UAE.

The independent non-profit, which will have offices in Expo City, will provide grants of between $50,000 to $100,000 and share information from previous Expo collaborations with start-ups.

“Given the challenges in the Global South and the lack of funding available for the Mena region and the Global South, we want to focus on this particular area,” Yousuf Caires, executive director of Expo Live, told The National.

Women will be at the core of training programmes, with grants to be available for global start-ups and ventures by UAE university students. “The one thing we are going to start this year is striking a partnership with the Women’s Pavilion at Expo City to create a centre for women who lead in tech businesses,” Mr Caires said.

“The reason is that we have noticed that more than a third of our start-ups are run and owned by women.

“We will turn the Women’s Pavilion into a centre that we will utilise to support women leaders who are focused on addressing social, environmental challenges. We will turn it into an epicentre to provide them support to build a global network.

“The Women’s Pavilion is the perfect space because it will empower women and will become the home of the effort to create a cohort dedicated to women entrepreneurs.”

Expo programmes included about 70 businesses run by women and there are plans to reach far more.

Share data and information

The foundation also aims to create programmes focused on agriculture and to establish initiatives for people with disabilities.

The idea is that through the foundation we will be able to create different areas of focus, to use our current and new start-ups to generate knowledge and accelerate innovation in particular sectors,” he said.

The foundation will invite applications from start-ups and grassroots organisations in January each year.

“We are going to create a series of training and workshops and biannual events for people from the Global South and also from the UAE,” Mr Caires said.

He said the plan was to use existing data from Expo projects in a way that can benefit people around the world.

“The next step of our journey is to make a positive impact around the world by supporting innovation and problem solvers," he said. “We have 10 years of data and insights that we can put on a platform for everyone to see and learn, much like a repository of solutions."

Updated: June 07, 2024, 7:36 AM