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Mentoring programme helps Emirati entrepreneurs

Eleven being supported by the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Small and medium Emirati entrepreneurs can now benefit from a new mentoring programme launched by the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.

The initiative, Qudwa, pairs the entrepreneurs with experienced mentors from various organisations in both the public and private sectors who will provide guidance and support in the course of a year.

"We have already successfully paired 11 Emiratis, both male and female, with mentors from different organisations … but while Qudwa has now been officially launched, it is still in its pilot phase. Because of that we will be monitoring the programme and participants to see if any changes are needed before we finalise the details," Abdullah Al Darmaki, Deputy Chief Executive officer of the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, said.

"Currently, the programme is open for entrepreneurs who have already approached us for support and financing. However, we are looking into expanding our database of participants in the future," he added.

The mentors were chosen from among the UAE alumni chapter of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. However, additional mentors will be added from various educational and organisational establishments. The Khalifa Fund is also seeking to add more female mentors, as very few joined up for Qudwa's pilot phase.


"When we began setting up this initiative, we discovered there were a higher number of male mentors present in our database compared to female ones, so we had to adjust some of our pairings," Al Darmaki said.

One of the reasons for that could be that the concept of mentoring is still relatively new for both the UAE and the region, so it will take some time before awareness about such programmes and their benefits can be raised.

"However, once that concept becomes established, it will provide an environment where successful small and medium enterprises are created, which will also provide a boost to our economy," Al Darmaki said.