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Calling all ‘wantrepreneurs’

Calling all ‘wantrepreneurs’

A November event is set to launch a new era of small company creation in the region. Kipp was at the launch.

October 13, 2010 3:35 by

A major new event set to take place in November will revolutionize the face of entrepreneurship in the region, according to organizers.

Last week, Kipp reported that entrepreneurship could prove to be the Middle East’s most effective weapon against the financial slump. Now it seems some of the most successful business people in the region had the same idea, and have leapt into action to create a platform that will allow them to engage with new and aspiring entrepreneurs.

They’re calling it a celebration of entrepreneurship; the idea is that more than 1,200 entrepreneurs, innovators, business leaders and finance providers will come together in Dubai to create an “enabling” environment for entrepreneurship by empowering and connecting entrepreneurs.

“It’s not a conference,” says Arif Naqvi, the founder and group CEO of Abraaj Capital (Abraaj is the region’s biggest private equity firm and shareholder of Mediaquest Corp., publisher of Kipp). “We call it an unconference, we call it a celebration. It’s a one year MBA accelerated in two days. They’re going to meet everyone that they need to meet, they’re going to see everything from access to capital to why to start a business to how to start a business, to what is it that we expect as an outcome at the other end.”

Abraaj is organizing the event. At the launch, Naqvi was joined by Fadi Ghandour, CEO of Aramex and founding partner of Maktoob who spoke passionately about the need for business figures to join forces to lobby government to create a more SME friendly environment across the Middle East. The pair also touted Wamda, an online portal for entrepreneurs, mentors and stakeholders to communicate and collaborate. They were joined by some familiar faces from the local entrepreneurial scene, such as Peyman Parham Al Awadhi and Mohammad Parham Al Awadhi (founders of Wild Peeta) and Ravi Bhusari (co-founder of Duplays).

The November event will feature workshops, inspirational talks by high profile speakers (according to the list seen by Kipp, the event has attracted well over a hundred of the region’s biggest business names), one-to-one mentoring sessions, and a chance to interact with key institutions, finance providers, policy makers and service providers. The event has also drawn in 50 partners, including universities, NGOs, and multinationals.

“The whole point is to enable the maximum number of concepts and ideas to be discussed in a structured manner – in relation to entrepreneurship – over that period of time and come out with very tangible outcomes,” says Naqvi. “The structure of the event will be total open architecture. Total thematic driven processes. You start with the thinking of what a big business leader in this region thinks about a theme, and then you take it through down to the grass roots. And then you evolve outcomes, ideas, research, through that process of the two days, and come out with what it is that the region needs, what it is that the business community needs. And we work off that until the next year when we do it again.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking Kipp has to tout this event, given our publisher’s connection to Abraaj. But we really don’t – we genuinely believe this is a positive step in the evolution of entrepreneurship in the Gulf and wider region, and it is badly needed. Entrepreneurs will create the wealth and jobs of the future, but the environment for new start-ups here can be unforgiving. Anything that can bring them together with powerful business figures to help facilitate entrepreneurial venture is long overdue and very welcome in Kipp’s eyes.

The event takes place on Novmber 8 and 9 at Madinat Jumeirah Dubai. More details at

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  1. Dieder Schmidt on October 14, 2010 5:12 am

    Please spare us from Abraaj’s CSR PR fluff.

    Until the day, they have all kinds of requirements (you need local sponsor, office space, license) and all kinds of ridiculous expenses to make the government richer….

    Until the day they don’t have bankruptcy laws…
    Until the day they keep putting thousands of entrepreneurs in jails even for a 100 AED cheque bounce…
    Until the day banks use SMS as a shameless plug, and instead lend money to those who are big or don’t need it…
    Until the day, they don’t encourage the ‘immigrant or expatriate’ entrepreneur events like these are hog wash. Hey you are not Emirati, sorry, no money my friend. We can take lessons from the US on this

    Its time KIPP gets its head out of its …..and talk to actual entrepreneurs, as oppposed to Abraaj’s PR people it will help.

  2. Anupama V. Chand on October 15, 2010 7:16 am

    This might very definitely be what Dubai and the UAE needed prior to the recession, a way forward, and solutions instead of problems. Hopefully though, the organisers will keep in mind that entrepreneurship is all about breaking out alone and forging one’s place in the sun, on one’s own terms…..something we have yet to see in any great scale in this region! Still here’s hoping they reflect the shape of things to come.

  3. Majed Al Alami on October 15, 2010 8:40 pm

    May be the “wantrepreneurs celebration” should discuss the “immature” Labour Law that blocks the growth & expansion of the business prior to thinking of setting up the business at all.
    I started my own business in Dubai six years ago and had to cancel phases 2 & 3 of my expansion plans due to the rejection of new “work permit” applications that I make. One of the application was for a phone operator cum receptionist for my company that has 37 staff members. The application was rejected on “no need” basis!
    May be they should also discuss the “Sponsor” system, due to the fact that sposors do nothing other than signatures and on top of that loose passports!
    May be they should discuss the non-existance of an “accountability system” where a bank does an obvious mistake, you complain to the Central Bank and follow up your complain for one & a half years before you find out that “nothing is going to happen” though you made it clear that all you’re asking for is an “apology letter”.
    I have a lot of examples like this for anybody who is willing to listen.


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