Sheraa supports 100 start-ups and raises $50m in investment
Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre, or Sheraa, as the startup incubator in the northern emirate is known, has supported more than 100 startups in the past four years that have gone on to raise more than $50 million (Dh183.5m) in investment, its chief executive said.
These businesses have managed to earn $35m in cumulative revenue, Najla Al Midfa yesterday told the third Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival, a three-day event featuring more than 11 speakers and about 4,000 attendees.
“These are the sweet success stories that every accelerator dreams of,” Ms Al Midfa told the hall full of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, start-ups and students.
“For Sheraa, it’s a success story of an accelerator born in Sharjah that always rises to the challenge and delivers. I’m so proud of what we have achieved.”
She called on investors and start-ups to work on ventures that not only generate financial returns but also work for the good of society, which is more important than chasing arbitrary valuations to become so-called “unicorns” – privately owned companies with valuations of $1 billion or more.
Start-ups supported by Sheraa, she said, are “so much more than the financial returns they generate”.
“We are witnessing a new generation of responsible entrepreneurs, conscious change-makers who build businesses that combine financial and social returns,” Ms Al Midfa said.
“Sheraa’s message to the world ... is to shift your focus from reckless growth to a holistic understanding of economic, social and environmental sustainability.”
Supporting start-ups and helping them to scale up is the among the top priorities of the UAE government. Different emirates are also running separate initiatives helping entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to fruition.
Sheraa, which is Arabic for sail, is Sharjah’s initiative to build a start-up ecosystem. It is headquartered at the American University of Sharjah and its hub, launched in September 2018, is based at the University of Sharjah.
The incubator has helped founders scale their businesses through workshops, mentorships, introductions to investors, government partners and corporate entities.
The event was headlined by Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, founder and chief executive of Alliances for Global Sustainability and the Circle of Hope Foundation.
Other speakers included Skype co-founder Jonas Kjelberg and Grammy award-winning artist and entrepreneur Akon.