The UAE aims to become home to 20 unicorns, or start-ups valued at more than $1 billion, by 2031 as part of a programme it launched on Wednesday to attract and expand small-and-medium enterprises.
The Entrepreneurial Nation initiative aims to offer support through a series of public-private partnerships that help entrepreneurs set up in the UAE, expand their businesses, export their products and tap into online sales, Ahmad Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said during a conference in Dubai.
The UAE will also set up a Dh1bn ($272 million) private equity fund for lending to SMEs based in the country and operating in strategic sectors, which will be released from the first quarter of 2022 and over the next five years, he said.
The programmes under the UAE’s Entrepreneurial Nation initiative will start this month, according to the ministry’s presentation.
The Entrepreneurial Nation, a unified destination for start-ups from inception to growth, encompasses three stages or tracks.
The Skill-Up Academy is intended to equip participants with entrepreneurial skills and to be suited to a variety of participants, including students, recent graduates, employees, retirees, homemakers and jobseekers.
Its Start-Up track will target entrepreneurs who are seeking to establish a business and will offer incentives, products and services to support start-ups and innovative companies in the country. This includes a partnership with Emirates Development Bank to open bank accounts as quickly as within 48 hours.
The Scale-Up programme will back fast-growing, revenue-earning companies that are more than three years old to expand and eventually become unicorns.
The various tracks will offer services from facilitating access to funding, offering a network of experts for mentorship, exporting to international markets, digitalization and sourcing talent, according to the presentation.
Entrepreneurial Nation has partnerships with global companies such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Cisco, Huawei and UPS, as well as local entities such as Etihad. Credit Insurance and Khalifa Fund For Enterprise Development to support entrepreneurs.