Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI) will provide 50 new offices free-of-charge to entrepreneurs as part of the chamber’s Incubate Business Programme. According to the chamber, office space will be offered to entrepreneurs that have creative ideas and innovative projects to be executed in the UAE.
The chamber hopes that providing office space to promising start-ups will help support the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the emirate. In addition to free offices, entrepreneurs inducted into the Incubate Business Programme will be offered a package of facilities including free consulting services, free membership in SCCI and commercial registration by the Sharjah Department of Economic Development.
The Incubate Business Programme, which falls under the chamber’s Sharjah Economic Excellence Network ‘ShjSEEN’, is one of a number of entrepreneurship programmes launched recently to stimulate the economy.
In 2015, Sharjah Businesswomen Council (SBWC) launched a new start-up incubator programme to help Emirati women entrepreneurs called ‘Jeel’, in collaboration with Education For Employment (EFE).
Earlier this year, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and the American University of Sharjah launched the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre, ‘Sheraa’, designed to help young people start their own enterprises and raise the Sharjah’s profile as a preferred destination for startups.
Meanwhile, 2016 has also seen the establishment of Sharjah Media City Free Zone for creative and media industries, in a move to encourage more startups and other SMES (small and medium-sized enterprises). Plans for the AUS Research, Technology and Innovation (RTI) Park were also announced this year, with the first phase scheduled for completion in 2018.
Other recent initiatives include the setting up of a one-stop-shop for investors setting up businesses in Sharjah and the establishment of an Exports Development Centre by Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The United Arab Emirates has around 300,000 SMEs, which contribute about 60 percent of the country’s GDP and represent 86 percent of jobs in the market. The UAE’s National Agenda, established to help the country achieve its UAE Vision 2021, aims to ensure that SMEs account for 70 percent of the UAE’s non-oil economy by the year 2021.