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SEF 2020 will engage entrepreneurs, founders on building a resilient and socially-conscious economy

Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center, Sheraa, said that ecosystems and communities worldwide were largely unprepared for COVID-19, but resilience is key not just to survive the aftermath of the crisis, but also to thrive beyond it.

In an exclusive interview with Emirates News Agency, WAM, Al Midfa added that:” This year’s Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival, SEF, is desgined to help instill that resiliency, giving a platform for powerful change makers to showcase what is possible when people come together to enact change in the face of challenging times.”

“Through SEF, we aim to help people tap into new reserves of energy, revitalising future changemakers as we continue the work of the emerging generation across the globe is filled with potential. They have what it takes to bring about positive, lasting and scalable improvements to vital sectors, All they need is inspiration and the right guidance to help them take that first step towards being the hero and building their own solutions for their communities,” she concluded.

The fourth edition of Sheraa’s annual flagship event, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival, SEF 2020, which kicks off on Sunday, comes as part of Sheraa’s Solidarity Fund. The region’s fastest growing festival celebrating entrepreneurs also goes fully virtual for the first time to enable target audiences far and wide to benefit from the key insights, motivation and practical guidance that will be offered during the five-day event.

With an internationally-renowned line-up of more than 50 speakers comprising the world’s leading ethologist, a Nobel laureate, social entrepreneurs, CEOs, and life coaches, SEF 2020 – powered by Sahab Smart Solutions – targets a global audience of young changemakers, ecosystem leaders and entrepreneurs with 10 knowledge-sharing panel discussions, five interactive workshops, and nine inspiring keynote sessions, which will be spread over five days from December 6 – 10. The full programme of SEF 2020 is available on the festival website

Held every year since 2017, the aim of this festival is to cultivate the entrepreneurial mindset and inspire the next generation of changemakers. Over the years, SEF has seen 200+ showcasing startups, 240+ local and international speakers, and 8,000+ attendees.

From making vital services like education and healthcare more accessible to disadvantaged communities, to creating wealth, increasing employment opportunities and pioneering unprecedented innovation, entrepreneurship is a growing global force, which continues to redefine the ways we live and work. The UAE’s vibrant entrepreneurial sector, represented by Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, MSMEs, and often described as the backbone of a sustainable and diversified national economy, contributed 53 percent to the UAE’s GDP in 2018.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, global economies have been shaken to the core, and every market sector, including entrepreneurial ecosystems, have been grappling with the financial fallout of the pandemic. In the UAE, the federal government as well as specialised agencies came together to demonstrate a high level of commitment and prowess in mitigating the impact on businesses across the board, enabling them through various programmes and initiatives to bounce back and build long-term resilience.

First, the Central Bank of the UAE, CBUAE, launched an AED 100 billion Targeted Economic Support Scheme, TESS, which was followed by Sharjah’s own comprehensive AED 4 billion stimulus programme for all businesses, including SMEs and startups. Earlier in November, Sharjah rolled out a second stimulus package worth Dh512 million to offer the economy an added boost.

Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center, Sheraa, the emirate’s leading entity behind the creation of a sustainable startup ecosystem in Sharjah and beyond, announced a US$ 1 million Solidarity Fund in May to help startups cope with implications of pandemic, and build resilience not just to survive but thrive in a post-COVID era.


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