Abdul Al Janahi
Dubai Next, a digital crowdfunding platform launched by Dubai SME Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai Next, a digital crowdfunding platform launched by Dubai SME, said total funding requests have exceeded Dh27.7 million and the projects have received 72 contributions from 58 supporters so far. The platform allows entrepreneurs to create campaigns online to seek funds – so far has seen 543 campaigns since launch. And 44 of them have gone live.

Previously, people with ideas try to secure funds from banks and investors, but “what we have done is somehow democratized this more,” said Abdul Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME. Crowdfunding involves small amounts from sources, which go towards financing of a single commercial venture. The method provides access to a large segment of society for funding and facilitates financing among entrepreneurs.

Abdul Baset Al Janahi
Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME, explains how crowdfunding is supporting startups in Dubai at a media roundtable on 29th June, 2021. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

“Contributors may have many reasons to support a campaign – either they may be inspired by the project or the expected reward, or want to support a friend or family member,” said Al Janahi. “Contributing to a campaign doesn’t help the campaign owner or the contributors only, but it eventually supports Dubai’s economy too.”

Campaign owners keep 100 per cent ownership of their project. The Dubai Next platform cannot be used to offer equity or financial returns. The programme protects an entrepreneur’s investments. “At least, if you can raise sales without even having a product or a service ready, you have taken a big step in terms of convincing people,” said Al Janahi.

Launch and beyond

The Dubai Next platform was launched by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, in May. The initiative “will contribute to stimulating positive competition and encouraging youth to put forward innovative ideas as well as obtain community support through crowdfunding,” said Sheikh Hamdan at the launch. “It will also empower a generation that is capable of innovating to succeed in a competitive commercial environment, thus reinforcing the fundamental role of SMEs in economic development so that the UAE can continue to stand as a model for youth empowerment”

Dubai SME provides a package of incentives for those who obtain financing on Dubai Next. This includes incubating the idea in the Hamdan Innovation Incubator (HI2) or in one of the 14 certified incubators in Dubai.

The incubators provide varied services and packages as well as an ideal work environment, effectively contributing to launching innovative projects and supporting them to successfully compete in the local market and expand further.