The event was held under the patronage of the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
The two-day event, which concluded at the Dubai World Trade Centre, reiterated the nation’s commitment to continue to promote and develop entrepreneurial activities in the Arab world for youth and women, in particular.
Youth entrepreneurship and the small and medium enterprises (SME) ecosystem in the region gained a tangible boost and significant vote of confidence at the event, with the signing of several strategic partnerships. GES-EVA’s tremendous success in energising the SMEs sector locally and regionally will have long-term social and economic benefits in creating new jobs, promoting entrepreneurship and accelerating diversification.
The deals signed at GES-EVA underlined the positive industry response to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed’s call to action on the opening day of the event, highlighting that the UAE is focused on supporting and encouraging young entrepreneurs by serving as a centre of creativity and innovation. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed had reiterated the importance of promoting the SME sector to develop the talent of the Arab youth to enable the region to achieve their developmental goals.
A number of strategic Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed at GES-EVA that will catalyse the region’s SME sector. Several start-up ventures found support for their business propositions from venture capitalists and angel funds, while many established businesses gained access to strengthen their operations with new sources of finance and/or entry to new geographic markets.
Helal Saeed Almarri, CEO of Dubai World Trade Centre, explained: “GES-EVA has served as a definitive platform that highlighted the growing role that the SME sector plays in the global growth narrative. We are thankful to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and our Strategic, Industry and Lead Partners and sponsors for their continued support to making this event a global success. We are also thankful to the speakers and other delegates for their committed involvement in making this event a true catalyst for growth by sharing their best practices.” “The success of the Summit and Exhibition served as a powerful demonstration of the UAE’s commitment to promote youth entrepreneurship through their active engagement in SMEs, creating diversified employment opportunities and bringing together all stakeholders in the SME ecosystem to help grow the business of start-ups and established ventures in the Arab world. The various initiatives announced at the Summit, as well as the strong credentials of UAE companies as demonstrated by their ranking in Arabia500 will continue to serve as referral points for sustained investment and encouragement for the SME sector,” he said.
Abdulla Al Basti, Vice Chairman of the Organising Committee, said: “We are delighted with the strong response from the global investor and business community to GES-EVA, held in the region in UAE, Dubai for the first time, attended by over 5,000 participants. The large number of agreements signed and new partnerships formed to promote the SME sector’s growth will further fuel economic growth and enable the region to meet its growth objectives, particularly in creating new jobs for the youth.
“The success of GES-EVA is a true testament to the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai to nurture and strengthen our youth talent by promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. By hosting the event in UAE, we are also highlighting the UAE Vision 2021 to achieve sustainable development” he added.
In key agreements signed on the side-lines of GES-EVA, Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and Mohammed Abdulla Al Gergawi Minister of Cabinet Affairs inked a partnership agreement between the UAE Government and the Higher Colleges of Technology to launch an integrated entrepreneurship initiative in line with UAE Vision 2021.
HCT, Khalfia Fund for Enterprise Development and Dubai SME signed an agreement to establish business incubators and conduct training programmes for supporting young and ambitious Emirati entrepreneurs to build their business capacities and strengthen channels of communication with them to share business best practices.
In other initiatives, Souq.com underlined its commitment to contribute to the e-Commerce Working Group by working closely with the stakeholders to identify the key barriers to the growth of e-Commerce in Dubai and the UAE.
“If you study the economic rise of nations in the last 100 to 200 years, it is not too difficult to spot the crucial role played by entrepreneurs and SMEs. What this summit has done is recognize the importance of SMEs in the economy and provide a platform to nurture more development and cooperation. We hope our initiative will result in global e-commerce corporations relocating to UAE to serve as their hub of operations for the MENA region,” said Ronaldo Mouchawar, CEO, Souq.com.
Highlighting the success of the event, Adel Ali, CEO Air Arabia, said: “GES-EVA reflects the great importance that the UAE places in supporting the ambitions of future generations. The Summit served as an ideal platform to share knowledge, exchange thoughts and help turn great ideas into reality. It also helps in creating the right social entrepreneurship environment across the Arab world, which is what the young Arab generation is looking for”.
Doa’a Essa Abdul Wahab, MD and Partner, Salad Boutique Restaurant, Bahrain, said the size, quality and the audience involvement at the Summit was impressive. “The Summit will help entrepreneurs because they will get to meet members of the government, decision makers, fund representatives and entrepreneurs from other practices. They will come out of the event stronger, wiser, more confident and won’t take no for an answer.” Muna Abu Sulayman, Philanthropist and development Expert; Partner, Directions Consultancy, Saudi Arabia, underlined the important role of GES-EVA as a networking opportunity. “I have met people from all around the region, from the US and have connected with new partners. The event will help entrepreneurs in developing their eco-system because they will meet all the skate holders and get real benefit from it.” “Emirates NBD is pleased to have served as a lead partner of GES-EVA, which has proved to be a great success in terms of SME networking, and has enabled us to reach out and strengthen relationships with the various stakeholders of UAE’s SME sector,” said Suvo Sarkar, General Manager, Retail Banking, Emirates NBD.
“We are also proud to have been named the �Best SME-friendly bank in the UAE,’ by Dubai SME, on the sidelines of the event, as this is backed by the high rating Emirates NBD has received on the SME-friendly index. The award reinforces our commitment of supporting the growth of the SME sector in the country.” Among the highlights of GES-EVA was the unveiling of AllWorld Network’s 2012 Arabia Fast Growth 500 Awards, a ranking of the region’s fastest growing non-listed entrepreneurial ventures with 137 SMEs from the UAE – the largest number from the GCC region.
The event also witnessed three regional SMEs win a total cash prize of AED 200,000 at the inaugural ‘Grow Your Business – Regional SME Competition and Awards’, which was open for SMEs in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector, digital media and innovation sectors from across the Pan Arab world.
More than 90 speakers, from 20 countries, shared best practices in SME development through keynote addresses by guest entrepreneurs and government representatives and over 20 sessions including panel discussions, success story talk shows, keynote discussions hosted by AllWorld Network and informed debates.
In addition to intense brainstorming sessions aimed at driving the growth of the SME ecosystem, GES-EVA also served as a facilitator for promoting business growth through networking sessions between start-ups and established businesses with global corporates, venture capitalists, government policy makers and angel funds. AllWorld Network hosted its new XChangeTM initiative, a technology platform to match growth companies all around the world, which enabled regional SMEs to network with industry leaders.
GES-EVA also hosted the Global Innovation Through Science ‘&’ Technology Tech 1-2012 competition, featuring 30 start-up ventures, from which 10 most promising ventures were provided grants apart from long-time mentoring and participation in a Silicon Valley accelerator course. The Young Entrepreneurs Forum, Oasis500 Angel Pitches, and Dubai Chamber’s Business Gala International were other notable aspects of GES-EVA.
Expo 2020 Dubai, UAE Candidate City was the Strategic Partner of GES-EVA; Dubai SME and Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development were Industry Partners; and Dubai Chamber, du and Emirates NBD were the Lead Partners in addition to the media partner; Dubai Media Incorporated, programs partners; Higher Colleges of Technology and TECOM.