The world’s brightest entrepreneurial minds and ‘changemakers’ — including those from the UAE — are convening in Paris this weekend to present viable solutions to problems that will change the world.
Four entrepreneurs with businesses that were born and initiated in Dubai will represent the emirate at the second ChangeNOW conference happening in Paris on Friday and Saturday.
Emirati Ashwaq Al Hashmi from Omniyat Prosthetic Arts Centre, Italian expatriate Assia Riccio from Evolving Women, Indian expatriate Ehteshamuddin Abdul Hameed of Junkbot, and Mohammad Elayyan from Jordan of Beta IT will showcase their innovative solutions which are apt for this year’s theme ‘Business For Good’. The theme focuses on businesses that are operating not only for profit but also supporting good causes.
Organised by INSEAD, ChangeNOW is the largest ‘Positive Impact’ conference that pools together concrete actions and innovations that address global problems such as climate change, plastic pollution, the refugee crisis, among others.
The four entrepreneurs are attending the conference supported fully by the Dubai government as part of the ‘Proudly From Dubai’ initiative. The project is the brainchild of Brand Dubai, which aims to give Dubai-based entrepreneurs the right platform to showcase their businesses and connect them with the right investors and the public.
Nehal Badri, director of Brand Dubai and project manager of Proudly From Dubai, said the selection of entrepreneurs represents the diversity that Dubai is known for.
“Proudly From Dubai specifically tells a story of entrepreneurship, but not just entrepreneurship. It specifically targets businesses that were born and initiated in Dubai. It has no gender, no age, no nationality. But so long as you have something special, innovative and creative to offer, and it was born in Dubai, then you fit our ‘Proudly From Dubai’ umbrella,” Badri told Gulf News.
Badri said all four entrepreneurs are proud to have started up their businesses in Dubai that provides a suitable environment that acts like an incubator for start-up businesses.
“They all unanimously said that they appreciate Dubai as a place that facilitated everything for them to be able to give back,” Badri said.
All the entrepreneurs had “amazing stories” to tell, Badri said.
“Ashwaq is not a doctor. She specifically said ‘I’m a medical sculptor’. That’s a very interesting field to be in. What she does is she provides prosthetic parts for people who need it at reasonable prices, sometimes for free. One of the examples was when she helped a burns victim from Pakistan who had half the face burnt in an acid attack,” she said.
Badri said she is hopeful that the entrepreneurs’ efforts will pay off — that they will be able to pitch their businesses and get connected with international investors who are willing to take their businesses further.
BOX: What is ChangeNOW?
ChaneNOW is the yearly gathering for all enthusiasts and innovators who want to shake and shape the world we live in with concrete actions.
The fab four:
Ashwaq Al Hashmi from Omniyat Prosthetic Arts Centre
— Offers free prosthetic parts to those in need consistently.
Assia Riccio from Evolving Women
— Social responsibility in HR practices, improving the employability of women from developing countries. She help women from poor families in Africa who didn’t have a chance of education and who don’t have financial means but need to support their families. So she brings them to Dubai, trains them in hotels here so when they go back home, they can get placed in jobs.
Ehteshamuddin Abdul Hameed of Junkbot
— Junkbot envisions to replace toys which use plastic and cause pollution by inspiring children to make robots, gadgets and toys by recycling unused things in their home. Powered by a solar panel, Junkbot’s toys avoid the use of batteries. This is Ehteshamuddin’s way of giving back to the environment.
Mohammad Elayyan of Beta IT
— Beta IT is a system integrator for information and communication technology infrastructure, specialises in enterprise and telecom grade solutions. The company has a dedicated programme for university student in computers and communications engineering, and participated in local and international university internship programmes.