Sheraa – the rise of an ecosystem
Celebrating five years of building an agile, resilient community of entrepreneurs, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa) unveiled its five-year impact report earlier this year. The report titled, The Rise of an Ecosystem: 5 Years of Creating Impact 2016-2020, reveals that Sheraa’s founder-focused, ecosystem responsive and impact-driven strategy has supported 114 startups over the past five years, generated USD 130 million in revenue and raised investments worth USD 87 million.
It also offers insights into Sheraa’s emergence as a key pillar of the UAE’s ecosystem where it has impacted a community of over 17,000 changemakers across sectors, placing Sharjah strongly on the global startup map.
Emphasising the formative role of entrepreneurship in building and sustaining competitive economies, Sheraa has consistently fostered innovation and growth opportunities for its thriving community of entrepreneurs, through a series of programmes, initiatives and collaborations, including the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF).
Since inception, Sheraa has provided more than 3,000+ hours of mentoring in collaboration with diverse ecosystem stakeholders. Accordingly, Sheraa has connected entrepreneurs to investors and customers for guidance and resources to commercialise ideas, accelerate growth and compete internationally.
The 114 startups supported by Sheraa during the past five years have created 1,300+ jobs and have registered a 65 percent survival rate. Driving the diversification of the UAE’s economy, the total revenue generated by Sheraa-supported startups in the past five years is USD 130 million, who have collectively raised USD 87 million in capital. Forty-eight percent of Sheraa supported startups are led by females.
Leveraging Sharjah’s historically strong trade ties and industrial competitive advantages to forge a globally connected entrepreneurship ecosystem, Sheraa launched several initiatives such as the Access Sharjah Challenge to attract high-potential entrepreneurs to the emirate and support startups and small and medium-sized enterprises to expand globally.
The entity offered 70 percent reduction in business startup costs through its partnerships with Sharjah’s free zones and a total of USD 1.3 million in grants and prizes was awarded to startups in collaboration with the public and private sectors.
In response to the pandemic, Sheraa launched the USD 1 million Startup Solidarity Fund in May last year to support startups developing solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. The required support was provided through equity-free grants, commissioned projects, and in-kind partnerships.
Sharing the remarkable achievements of Sheraa’s five-year journey, Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa, commended the resilience, resourcefulness and agility of Sheraa’s growing community of entrepreneurs and changemakers in navigating the unprecedented challenges of the coronavirus pandemic last year.
She said, “Sharjah’s key strengths in building a globally connected ecosystem and forging cross-sectoral partnerships have laid the foundation for aspiring entrepreneurs to scale up to global markets and access top-tier VCs in emerging economic domains. During the pandemic, Sheraa remained steadfast in its commitment to strengthening Sharjah’s role in providing our community ample protection from market volatility, and enabled startups in the UAE and the wider region to navigate the turbulence by shifting to new future-proof business models.”