Sheraa Ramadan Majlis 2021 turns the spotlight on Sharjah’s high-growth entrepreneurial ecosystem


Sheraa Ramadan Majlis 2021 turns the spotlight on Sharjah’s high-growth entrepreneurial ecosystem

In its fifth year, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) impacts over 17,000 changemakers and graduates 114 startups

Sharjah, May 1 2021

During its five-year journey, the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) has set a precedent in building a world-class, founder-centric and inclusive ecosystem of founders, who have collectively generated a sizeable AED 477 million (USD 130 million) in revenue and raised investments worth AED 320 million (USD 87 million) – Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa, revealed at the Sheraa Ramadan Majlis which took place on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, under the title, ‘An Ode to Changemakers’.

The Sheraa CEO also spoke about Sharjah’s invaluable contribution to the entity’s success, highlighting that the emirate’s pro-entrepreneurship attitude has turned it into a home for innovation and impact. “Since 2016, Sheraa has inspired a community of over 17,000 changemakers and has graduated 114 startups,” Al Midfa announced in her opening address and shared that these startups have contributed significantly across sectors and created over 1,300 jobs.

She also shared that Sheraa was especially proud of the fact that of the startups they graduated, 48 percent were women-led.

Held in partnership with Alef Group at the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP), the Sheraa Ramadan Majlis brought together senior government officials and entrepreneurs from Sharjah and the UAE to discuss how agile and adaptive measures are elevating the emirate’s appeal as one of the leading SME hubs in the region.

Investors and entrepreneurs representing a wide spectrum of business sectors also showcased their success stories at the 2021 Sheraa Ramadan Majlis, detailing their experiences of setting up businesses in Sharjah and across the UAE and suggesting ways to further grow the startup ecosystem in the emirate.

Prominent attendees at the event included Sheikh Saud bin Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi; HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq); HE Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP); Mohamed Al Musharrkh, CEO of the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah); and Issa Ataya, CEO of Alef Group.

Trend analysis vital to business success

Speaking at the event, HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkalemphasised that as data and business intelligence are emerging as valuable resources, companies that shift their strategy to incorporate emerging trends are often able to pivot into successful ventures. “The future is about data,” he said, adding that proactive companies that keep sharp focus on evolving global trends will be better equipped to navigate disruptions and risks.

The world of business is changing at a rapid pace, said Al Sarkal, urging entrepreneurs “to keep on going, and follow your passion.”

During his statement at the Sheraa Ramadan Majlis, HE Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTIP, affirmed that SRTIP’s strategic partnership and collaboration with Sheraa falls in-line with its strategy to supporting start-ups in Sharjah, especially when the emirate is ranked among the world’s high-growth startup ecosystems according to the Global Startup Ecosystem.

He added: “Sharjah is also a pioneering global hub for startups seeking unique innovation, research and entrepreneurial success, thanks to its approach in sustaining a knowledge-based economy that encourages and inspires an innovative business ecosystem, as well as the continued development of its scientific and applied research sector. These efforts have strongly contributed in bolstering Sharjah’s position as a regional hub for entrepreneurship and innovative start-ups, and reinforces its competitiveness globally.”

Fueling the next wave of innovation

Mohamed Al Musharrkh, CEO of the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), described how the startup ecosystem in Sharjah has been rapidly adapting to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic last year as people began to shift focus to new ideas, products and services.

Al Musharrkh also urged entrepreneurs to take advantage of the complete range of government solutions that the Sharjah Investors Services Centre (Saeed) provides to help investors and entrepreneurs set up their business in the emirate.

Solutions-driven impact

Speaking at the event, Al Midfa stated that the Sheraa Ramadan Majlis was dedicated to “our entrepreneurs who are committed to transforming the world and building a brighter future for us all, and to commemorate a special milestone as Sheraa celebrates five years of building a world-class ecosystem with entrepreneurs at its heart.”

The CEO of Sheraa encouraged participating founders to be solution-driven in their ideas for change. She said: “The passion to transform Sharjah into a thriving destination for entrepreneurs is what brings us all together tonight. We need your help to know what is working, what needs improving, and where the opportunities are.”

Issa Ataya, CEO of Alef Group, said: The entrepreneurship sector is a driving force in increasing the diversification of the economy. The industry requires support for emerging entrepreneurs to achieve sustainable and comprehensive economic development and provide more opportunities for creativity and innovation.

Ataya pointed out that Alef Group, in line with the vision and directives of the Sharjah Government and the leadership of the United Arab Emirates, is continuously working to provide innovative solutions for small and medium entrepreneurship projects. Alef Group is keen to provide entrepreneurs and talented youth with a suitable environment to establish their business and provide them with a platform to reach new heights for their business and ultimately build a better future for current and future generations.

Supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem vital for success

From novice-stage entrepreneurs who had commenced their entrepreneurial activities during the pandemic last year to well-established startups who pivoted to fill gaps exposed by the crisis, the majlis set the stage for an open and honest conversation about the challenges unique to their respective businesses.

Describing that there wasnothing more daunting than taking that first step, founders emphasised the power of being part of a larger community of entrepreneurs that creates opportunities for mentorship, to develop new skillsets, and support each other.

Apart from the external variables that pose setbacks in any business, founders also highlighted the need to introspect on the inner beliefs that are often limiting an individual’s potential for growth.

Sharing their insightful and very personal collection of inspiring stories at the Sheraa Ramadan Majlis, the founders also underlined the need to prepare aspiring startups for failure, and teach them how to be resilient and bounce back.

In this context, Najla Al Midfa pointed out that of the 114 startups supported by Sheraa during the past five years, “30 percent are not operating today but 1 out of every 5 of these have come back to Sheraa to build a new venture.”