The Economic Council
ADCED launched the Akoun Entrepreneurship Initiative in November 2009 with the aim of identifying and disseminating the concept and practice of business entrepreneurship among university students to develop an entrepreneurial culture that would inspire and enable Emirati youth to enter the private sector by establishing their own small and medium business projects.
Academic institutions welcomed the initiative and expressed their interest in cooperating with ADCED to promote the initiative among students and encourage them to enter the entrepreneurship world. Zayed University and INSEAD prepared case studies on leading Emirati entrepreneurs to be used as academic reference material and teaching material. In addition, Zayed University formed an entrepreneurs club and launched an academic training course on Emirati entrepreneurs.
The idea of the initiative centers on organizing specialized workshops in which a number of Emirati entrepreneurs share their expertise and experience with the participating students. An annual competition entitled "Best Business Idea" is organized as part of the initiative's activities. A panel of experts choose three best business ideas presented by students, and the winners are awarded cash prizes, which can be used to start a business. In addition, the winners get professional training and guidance from the Khalifa Fund. Thousands of university students from all over UAE participated in the Akoun workshops and competition.
ADCED launched the Dirhami Financial Awareness Initiative, the first of its kind in the Arabian Gulf region, in December 2010. The Initiative aims to raise financial awareness among members of the community in Abu Dhabi and to educate them on financial matters related to managing their funds and savings and making sound financial decisions when it comes to spending, savings, planning, borrowing, investment and debt management.
Within the framework of the annual activities of the Initiative, ADCED organized several workshops and educational seminars for employees of several government bodies and targeted segments of the community, including citizens and residents, such as students at specific educational stages, age groups, newlyweds and others.
In order to ensure the best results among the target audience, the Initiative developed a strategic plan to expand the scope of cooperation with related and specialized entities in the field of financial awareness. In this respect, ADCED signed a number of cooperation agreements with several government and private bodies such as Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Emirates Foundation for Youth Development and others.
The Dirhami Initiative has been widely recognized worldwide after its launch, an indication of ADCED's positive role in promoting financial awareness. In recognition of the significance and effectiveness of this Initiative, ADCED was admitted to the International Network for Financial Education (INFE) established by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), to become the first government body in the United Arab Emirates to join this network, which supports financial awareness and financial education around the world.
In the autumn of 2009, ADCED published the first issue of The Economic Review, a quarterly economic magazine aimed to highlight aspects of economic growth in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and to promote Abu Dhabi as a distinct global economic hub. The magazine focused in particular on initiatives that promote entrepreneurship by highlighting a number of leading entrepreneurs and their success stories. Articles and reports published in the magazine dealt with economic activities, development projects and other vital issues related to the local economy of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Considering the high values embraced and provided by The Economic Review in terms of production and quality of material, it was nominated to win the first prize in the category for the Best Public Sector Title as part of The International Customer Publishing Awards for 2011, which took place in the British capital, London. The criteria adopted for giving the awards were based on the magazine's creativity, innovation and effectiveness.
Twenty three issues of The Economic Review have been published since its launch in 2009 until it ceased publication at the end of 2013.
The Economic Dialogue
The year 2013 witnessed the birth of a new economic initiative that ADCED launched in a form of a quarter forums called (The Economic Dialogue) at the aim to strengthen the partnership between the public and private sectors, and to find new paths for growth and economic diversification, with a focus on the emergence of new industries in Abu Dhabi. The forum includes a series of sessions that shed light on various economic issues, and discuss how to overcome the various challenges and adopt the best practices in order to improve the local economy, in line with Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, and prepare a comprehensive research that includes a list of recommendations and present it to the decision-makers in the government of Abu Dhabi. The forum also provides an open platform for dialogue and exchange of views on various economic issues between the relevant specialists and experts in this field.
In this regard, ADCED launched The Economic Dialogue forums three times during 2013. The first forum was scheduled on the second quarter of the year, on 29 May 2013 in particular at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Abu Dhabi, under the slogan: "the emergence of new industries in Abu Dhabi". The forum was organized in collaboration with the Harvard Business School Club of the Gulf Council Countries (GCC), and with the participation of more than 170 delegates representing the public and private sectors.
At the forum, decision makers, executives and economic experts discussed the diligent efforts made by the government of Abu Dhabi in order to strengthen the role of the private sector, which contributed to the advancement of the local economy by a large margin reaching 33% compared to 2012, in which the percentage of the private sector's contribution in GDP reached about 6.5%. They have also discussed ways to achieve sustainable development through the creation of a structural change in the industrial sector to boost the domestic demand for industrial products, and establish secondary industries, adopt export policies that are encouraging, direct a greater proportion of the government spending towards research and development, and provide incentives to the private sector to support these activities.
To address the imbalance structure within the industry, ADCED made a number of recommendations, including building close relationships between industrial companies, governmental organizations, and private sector companies through joint cooperation rather than competition, encourage industries' new sub-based products, pay financial institutions to grant financial facilities for new industries, and create more government funds to finance industrial activities and facilitate investments, and thus, involve the private sector in the preparation of necessary economic policies.
In the last quarter of 2013, ADCED launched the second cycle of the forum under the slogan "Corporate Financing and Access to Finance", in collaboration with economic experts from the World Bank, on 1 October 2013 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The forum addressed obstacles facing the private sector and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and discussed means of creating an enabling environment for the SMEs to contribute effectively to the growth and sustainability of the local economy.
During the sessions and discussion panels at the forum, decision makers, executives and economic experts reviewed a recent study conducted by ADCED, which highlighted the financing gap faced by the SMEs. The study found that 67% of entrepreneurs and start-ups who took part in the survey said they faced difficulties in having access to finance from banks, while only 33% of those surveyed mentioned they received their finance requirements in full. The study also indicated that entrepreneurs spend more than a year to receive approvals on their loan application from banks, leaving the SME share of bank lending in the UAE to 4%, a percentage that is significantly below the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region's average.
In addition, a number of financial specialists from the World Bank presented information and figures about international good practices to increase SMEs access to corporate financing, indicating the importance of SMEs projects in providing employment for about 48% of the workforce in 104 countries. Financial specialists also indicated the challenges faced by SMEs in accessing bank credits due to the high interest rates and other collateral requirements.
Afterwards, a panel discussion was organized, in which experts and speakers addressed the challenges of corporate financing. A wide range of solutions were discussed including diagnosing the current regulatory and supervisory framework, strengthening the financial infrastructure, increasing the public sectors' intervention in order to develop a specialized SME equity market, maintaining strong incentives for effective loan origination, and decriminalizing bankruptcy.
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Under the Umbrella of Department of Economic Development