Shaikh Mohammad hands over the award for the Best Supporting Organisation in the Arab World to a representative of the MicroFund for Women. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Wednesday issued a decree to establish the ‘Mohammad Bin Rashid SME Fund’ to finance around 100 national entrepreneurial projects every year as well as allocating 10 per cent of government procurements to projects initiated by Emirati youth.

“The necessity of supporting small and medium enterprises [SMEs] of young nationals has resulted in issuing a federal law to support such enterprises and [will] create a new generation of entrepreneurs to boost the UAE economy,” said Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai.

The announcement was during the ceremony of the seventh annual Mohammad Bin Rashid Award for Young Business Leaders in Dubai and was attended by Shaikh Mohammad; Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council; and Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai.

Fifteen Emirati and Arab individuals were honoured by Shaikh Hamdan for their contribution to enterprise development across different sectors.

The Young Entrepreneur Competition for 2012 went to Emirates Glass Gardens 2030 while the Entrepreneurial Personality of the Year went to Al Sayed Yousuf Al Hashemi and Rasha Sharif Al Dhanhani.

Shaikh Mohammad also awarded The King Abdullah University of Science, the Mowgli Foundation, the Microfund for Women, the Tamkeen Labour Fund, the National Commercial Bank and Bab Rizq as the Best Supporting Organisations in the Arab World. The UAE organisations who received the award were the Roads & Transport Authority, Emirates airline, Union Co-operative Society, du and Emirates NBD.

Al Hashemi, the winner of two awards with Best Small Project and the Entrepreneurial Personality of the Year, said government support and a strong belief in our capabilities are the main drivers of the nation;s enterprises. “Moreover, the recognition we receive today will give us further push to excel in our business,” he said.

Another Winner of the Best Small Project in the manufacturing sector, Mohammad Al Mazroui, who is the Founder of Liwa Dates for Foods Industries, called upon the youth to be innovative and persistent their businesses.

Al Mazroui started up his business in 2006 with 10 employees, and today he has a total staff of 90. He said the financial support he got it from the government in 2009, which worth Dh5 million, was a turning point in his business expansion. “SMEs are an essential business segment in any economy that government should continuously support,” he said.

Jamal Al Shamsi, founder of United Cool General Trading, said receiving the Mohammad Bin Rashid Award for Young Business Leaders is a distinguishing honor in the entrepreneurial world, said encouraged entrepreneurs to be creative. “Amid the unbelievable businesses diversification as well as the competitive projects in the market, to become an entrepreneur you should be creative to bring new ideas.”

Al Qamzi also highlighted how SMEs have grown locally and regionally.

“Over the last 10 years, Dubai SME has endeavoured to translate Shaikh Mohammad’s vision of entrepreneurship in the local community, providing business development and advisory services to more than 12,000 entrepreneurs and assisting in the launch of more than 1,200 local businesses.”

Baset Al Janahi, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai SME, said: “The Business Incubation Centre launched by Dubai SME in 2004 has resulted in the launch of over 350 successful SMEs. We have also financed SME projects and brought SMEs into a growth network through the Smeconnect.ae portal.”

Over 8,500 students have participated in the Young Entrepreneur Competition of Dubai SME, launching more than 2,800 different projects and gaining a clear understanding of the world of business in the process, he said.