A new, Dh2 million fund was launched on Thursday in an effort to support startups aiming to assist those with disabilities.
Authorities in Abu Dhabi announced that both seed capital and business development advice would be awarded to 20 outstanding candidates annually.
Applicants from around the world have until June 13 to apply for the funding, with anyone shortlisted also receiving access to training workshops.
The move follows the UAE’s successful staging of the Special Olympics in March – highlighting the talents of thousands of people of determination.
“It [the fund] is open to teams of two to three people whose innovative and original ideas are in the early stages of development,” officials from Ma’an, a body set up to promote the idea of civic duty, said.
“Successful applicants will be supported by the business development expertise of Deloitte and provided with an experienced mentor who will offer their time, expertise and guidance in helping the teams to bring their idea to fruition.”
Ma’an was established in February this year by the Department of Community Development in the capital.
The body aims to bring together sections of government, the private sector and civil society to support a culture of social contribution and participation.
Under their new initiative, called the Ma’an Social Incubator, the organisation will run two six-month cycles each year, nurturing 10 social startups in each cycle.
Officials said they would also organise “pitch days” for successful teams to further their chances of leveraging funding from investors.
Applicants must be 18 and over and either live in, or be willing to relocate to, Abu Dhabi. They can apply through, maan.gov.ae.
“Each team will be eligible to receive milestone funding of up Dh100,000 - released at every successful milestone the participant reaches, as well as support for living expenses and housing costs for participants not based in Abu Dhabi,” Ma’an said in a statement.
“At Ma’an our mission is to make a social impact in Abu Dhabi, encouraging the growth of the third sector and making a positive difference in the lives of our residents,” said Salama Al Ameemi, director general of Ma’an.
“We are looking for talented, enthusiastic, creative and driven people with ideas that are unique, impactful and sustainable.
“Our focus is on incubating ventures that make a big social impact. Whether it is, for example, an idea for a braille smartphone or a business that employs people of determination, the Ma’an Social Incubator can help you to make that idea a reality.”
Dr Georgina Reynhout, who works at the Department of Community Development, welcomed the scheme.
“To have an opportunity to ease their path is incredible,” she said. “They have a right to be included and to achieve that we need to provide services that will enable them to participate fully.
“That’s what’s exciting about this - the products and services as a result of this initiative will change lives.”