Dubai Start-up Hub – the entrepreneurship arm of Dubai Chamber – helped a host of entrepreneurs at Global Business Forum Africa connect to the vast opportunities offered by the continent and showcase their services at the two-day event.
The business forum – organised by Dubai Chamber in partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai – under the theme Transformation through Trade, closed with a total tally of 550 bilateral meetings and 3,000 delegates taking part, including 600 who attended remotely, representing 91 countries around the world.
“A great aspect of being part of the Dubai Startup Hub is the opportunity to work very closely with Dubai Chamber’s offices in Africa,” Assia Riccio, Founder of Nia Coffee, told GN Focus.
“Nia is a trading company based in Dubai, UAE. We trade with women farmers across Africa, and the profit we make is invested back into the farms. We joined the Dubai Chamber’s Startup Hub about four and a half years ago and have had the opportunity to attend the market access programme as well as the Chamberthon in Rwanda, that gave us the opportunity as a startup from Dubai to meet entrepreneurs and stakeholders in Africa,” said Riccio, whose company was among the Dubai Startup Hub exhibitors at the two-day GBF Africa.
“That enabled us to grow our first organisation, and at the moment we operate in five countries in Africa. It’s been an incredible opportunity not only from a training and mentoring point of view but also to have a platform like GBF Africa,” she added.
Since its establishment in 2016 as an initiative of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dubai Startup Hub has grown rapidly and expanded its offerings in line with the changing needs of Dubai’s maturing entrepreneurial community. What began as an online interactive portal offering resources and information has evolved into a one-stop-shop for all things startup, providing entrepreneurs access to a wide range of programmes, initiatives, events and tools.
According to Riccio, initiatives such as Dubai Startup Hub provide an ideal platform for collaboration between key players in Dubai’s startup ecosystem.
“As an example, in our case, we wanted to start operating in Ethiopia and Kenya – and we reached out to Dubai Chamber’s representative offices in those countries. They have helped us make the right connections and start piloting our business ideas in those countries,” she said.
According to Ivan Leon Gee, Data Scientist at Digital Energy – which was one of the exhibitors at the Startup Hub in GBF Africa – the initiative by Dubai Chamber was indeed the perfect platform for startups.
“Digital Energy is an AI service company – we have an integrated platform. Our main platform is called Odin, which is Oneshot Digital Integrated Network. We have a building block approach to building components, specifically AI models. Being a tech company, we don’t really have geographical borders,” he told GN Focus.
Expanding trade horizons
“Dubai Chamber giving us this opportunity to be here today allows us to conduct trade with Africa and also the potential to make a good impact on the environment – which is what we are all about,” Gee added.
According to him, Dubai Startup Hub has created opportunities for entrepreneurs to take their business to targeted locations – in this case Africa. “We want to go to Africa because we feel it is very important for the development of the future – it is an emerging market. There are always plenty of opportunities there – otherwise this forum today wouldn’t have been so successful,” he said.