Sheraa sup­ports 100 start-ups and raises $50m in in­vest­ment

The National - News - - BUSINESS - Sar­mad Khan

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.

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