Females dominate young entrepreneurs' competition

Only three out of 10 teams were male in finals of entrepreneurial planning and innovation competition from a field of 45.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, Mar 8- Left to Right- Alia Falaknaz and Khawla Khoory talking about Boutique on Wheels project during the Entrepreneurial Planning & Innovation Competition at HCTÕs Dubai MenÕs College in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For News. Story by Melanei

DUBAI // Alia Falaknaz, a finalist in a young entrepreneurs' competition at the Higher Colleges of Technology, says it is no fluke that female students have dominated the event. "In the future, we will see many more women running businesses here in the UAE," said Ms Falaknaz, 22, who graduated from the college in January. "Many young women want their own business, and to have this challenge and independence."

Of the eight teams who reached the final of the entrepreneurial planning and innovation competition from a field of 45, only three consisted of males. The contest is being run in conjunction with the Wharton Business School and the Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training, which began as the commercial arm of the HCT and is now the region's largest private education provider. The winning team, which will be announced this morning, will take home US$20,000 (Dh73,450).

Competitors were asked to present comprehensive business plans, projected costs, marketing plans, profits and pitfalls, before a round of questioning from the judges. The judges, experts and academics from around the world, said standards this year were very high. The chairman of the panel, Dr James Pounder, HCT's associate provost, said the competition was crucial for the future of Dubai. "When the oil reserves run out and such like, these are the people who will be running businesses here," Dr Pounder said.

He added that it was no surprise to see such dominance by women, a trend he said has been building. Dr Pounder cited the students' ability to get access to funds as a unique aspect of the competition. "Many of the teams already have the money in the bank," he said. "It's also a great perspective on the Arab entrepreneur. These projects are all about developing here in the UAE, which we don't otherwise see that often."

The second-placed team will win $10,000 and the third $5,000. There will be a $5,000 prize for the best undergraduate and best graduate team. The other three teams in finals will be awarded $2,000 each. mswan@thenational.ae