The UAE government supports not only local, but also foreign entrepreneurs. For this purpose, platforms, like The Entrepreneurial Nation, as well as funds and centres have been created to provide assistance from consultations and resolving financial issues to starting a business from scratch. The most popular government programs include Market Expansion to Abu Dhabi, Huawei Cloud Startup Program, Innovation Accelerator Programme, and others.
The Entrepreneurial Nation platform
Created on the initiative of the Ministry of Economy of the UAE. There are several free programs available here that entrepreneurs from around the world can participate in. To do this, you need to create an account on the website and fill out the application form.
AWS Connected Community
Collaborates with leading companies in the cloud technology and payment services sector — Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Amazon Payment Services (APS). It helps businesses digitise and embrace cloud computing.
An entrepreneur can receive:
- individual free consultations from AWS experts;
- exclusive payment benefits and advantages;
- detailed market entry guidance;
- innovative payment methods;
- support from a customer relations manager;
- exclusive promotions when using software and services from AWS technology and consulting partners;
- events and seminars on innovation and cloud economics;
- education, training, and more.
Participation in the program is open to all owners of small- or medium-sized businesses, regardless of the industry. The sole selection criterion is that the business must be registered in the UAE.
Note! Applications for participation will be accepted until December 30, 2023.
Huawei Cloud Startup Program
The program is designed to support technology startups. It allows entrepreneurs to quickly develop their businesses and receive:
- Huawei cloud vouchers worth up to AED 550,000 (USD 150,000);
- consultation and training related to business set-up and expansion;
- technical support and solution-finding in collaboration with leading industry experts;
- marketing support.
Only technology startups registered in the UAE are eligible to participate in the program. To do so, you need to:
- Have an innovative business proposal.
- Have been operating in the UAE for at least one year.
- Employ a minimum of three full-time employees.
Note! Applications for participation will be accepted until September 30, 2023.
Market Expansion to Abu Dhabi
The Market Expansion to Abu Dhabi program helps entrepreneurs with innovative solutions, services, or products to expand their business in Abu Dhabi. Program participants can expect:
- assistance in working with investors;
- comprehensive support during the business creation phase in Abu Dhabi;
- discounts and grants to support investments in the innovation sector.
To participate in the program, you need to:
- Operate in the financial, agricultural, tourism, healthcare, or pharmaceutical sectors, or be engaged in information and communication technologies.
- Have a business plan oriented towards the development of the business environment in Abu Dhabi.
- Demonstrate that your business can be successful in Abu Dhabi – withstand competition, have demand among the population, etc.
Note! Applications for participation will be accepted until December 10, 2023.
Government funds and centres
Have been established to support innovative projects. They assist representatives of medium and small businesses in obtaining consultations from experts, tax incentives, and building business relationships with other market participants.
Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund — MBRIF
This fund supports companies that create innovative solutions in the fields of education, energy, water supply, healthcare, transportation, technology, and space.
Innovation Accelerator Programme
This is a free business accelerator for innovators. It provides participants with:
- mentorship from experts and partners;
- assistance in studying and analysing business models;
- help in finding clients and establishing partnerships;
- assistance in employee recruitment.
To participate in the program, you need to submit an online application on the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund website under the Accelerator section. Next, complete the registration form and go through the selection stages:
- introduce yourself;
- record a video about your invention;
- explain the specific support needed;
- demonstrate your invention to the committee.
It provides the bank with a government guarantee, enabling the entrepreneur to obtain a loan for business development. Program participants have access to:
- flexible financing terms at all stages of project development;
- obtaining a loan without personal contributions to the collateral amount.
To participate in the program, you need to submit an online application on the MBRIF website under the Guarantee Scheme section. The commission will conduct two legal assessments — initial and detailed. After this, the participant must pay a service fee and wait for the final decision, which will be provided within 10 business weeks.
Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development — Dubai SME
The centre's experts provide Dubai-based companies with training and support at various stages of development. Entrepreneurs from all industries can participate in the programs.
This is a free aggregator where an entrepreneur can put in information about their business, and the residents of Dubai will learn about their services and products. Program participants will receive:
- free company PR;
- increased visibility;
- business information placement on the official Hi Dubai website.
To participate, you need to register on the Hi Dubai website and fill out the form to add your business to the platform.
This is a free crowdfunding platform for startups in the UAE. On this platform, any entrepreneur can share their business idea, set an amount they need for project implementation, and the residents of Dubai can donate money if they wish.
Program participants will receive:
- donations for project launch and development;
- assistance in obtaining a trade licence.
To participate in the program, you need to register on the Dubai Next website. Go to the START A CAMPAIGN section and fill out the participation form.
Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa)
Sheraa assists entrepreneurs and startups from various business sectors. In 2023, it is placing special emphasis on the EdTech, CleanTech, and arts industries.
S3 INCUBATOR (S3)
Startup studio for testing and launching business ideas. Program participants receive:
- сo-working services;
- initial funding required to kickstart the project;
- individual assistance, including obtaining licences and product development;
- project launch within six months;
- creation and setup of a business framework.
To become a program participant, you need to submit an online application on the Sheraa website. Then, go to the S3 INCUBATOR section and fill out the participation form.
Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF)
An annual festival for entrepreneurs from all industries. Here, you can:
- build business connections;
- attend sessions and workshops dedicated to the latest trends and opportunities in the entrepreneurial world.
Detailed information about the program and ticket prices for the festival can be found on the SEF website.
Emirates Development Bank (EDB)
This is a government bank that offers businesses low interest rates and flexible loan repayment options. Entrepreneurs operating in the fields of industry, healthcare, energy, food security, and innovative technologies can rely on EDB's assistance.
Credit program for farmers, local producers, agricultural equipment, and technology suppliers. The size and terms of financing depend on the business needs and are discussed individually.
Entrepreneurs can receive:
- financing for Green- and brownfield projects;
- working capital financing;
- loans of up to AED 5 million (USD 1.3 million);
- preferential periods up to 2.5 years, etc.
To become a participant, you need to submit an online application on the EDB website. Then, proceed to the AgriTech Loans Program section and fill out the form with the company information and contact details.
The bank's lending program for all industrial sectors. The terms and size of the loan are discussed individually.
Participants can choose from the following financing options:
- asset-backed financing;
- accounts receivable financing;
- business expansion financing.
To participate, you need to submit an online application on the EDB website and proceed to the SME Finance section. Then, fill out the form with the company information, contacts, financing purpose, etc.
The UAE government supports startups, small, medium, and large businesses. Entrepreneurs can participate in government programs and receive consultations, mentorship, assistance in obtaining loans, licences, project launch, and more. These initiatives operate across multiple emirates and address various challenges.