The late H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the then President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi launched Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development in 2007 to help develop local investment and entrepreneurs, as well as to support and develop small to medium-sized investments in the emirate.
The fund targets capable, young graduates as well as young businessmen and businesswomen with creative business ideas, coupled with strong administrative and managerial skills.
Khalifa Fund provides funding solutions for a variety of feasible projects that serve the interests of the national economy in different sectors and project categories such as farming, fishing, agriculture and even home-based businesses. These programmes include: microfinance, Khutwa, Bedaya, Zeyada, Tasnea, Zaarie and Al Hasela.
In addition, the fund offers a number of outreach programmes which targets certain categories in UAE community. Some of these are:
- Al Radda programme - this is implemented in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi police. The initiative aims to provide Emirati inmates the opportunity to enter the business sector and reintegrate into society after serving their sentences.
- Ishraq programme - this is implemented in collaboration with the National Rehabilitation Centre. The programme offers the opportunity for recovered drug addicts (citizens) to enter the business sector and reintegrate into society.
- Sougha programme - this aims to preserve the cultural heritage by encouraging entrepreneurship in handicrafts. It targets all artisans and women within the UAE.
- Amal programme - this aims to familiarise Emiratis of determination (those with special needs) with specific business sectors, through identifying the appropriate course-of-action, taking into consideration their disabilities, providing counselling services, as well as financial and non-financial support.
How to apply to Khalifa Fund
The fund is restricted to Emiratis between 21 and 60 years old. Applicant may call any of the available branches to register or read online about the application process (PDF).
Similarly, Dubai SME, an agency of Department of Economic Development in Dubai offers financing options and many support services including advisory and incubatory services to small and medium enterprises. Dubai SME offers services to startups and established businesses.
For startups, they have the Intelaq programme, under which Emiratis residing in Dubai receive full support through all the phases of setting up a business. Support is in the form of licensing, training courses as well as financial, legal, marketing, technical support and consultancy.
Hamdan Innovator and Incubator (HI2) provides both hardware and software. Software comprises an intellectual infrastructure of 10 years' experience with 500 companies established by Dubai SME. The low-cost hardware is made of 20,000 sq. feet of space that can accommodate 60+ companies. HI2 provides business development advisory services, a special lab for creating products and inventions prototypes, a multimedia lab, 3D printers and more.
For existing businesses, they offer guidance on type of business, mode and category of business licensing, reducing business start-up costs and accessing reduced rate for business spaces. Dubai SME runs a Government Procurement programme under which All Dubai Government departments allocate at least 5 per cent of their annual purchasing budget to buying from UAE Nationals who own and operate small and medium-size businesses. This helps the small and medium-size businesses to build their capacities to compete with larger companies and sell their products and services to government departments.
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Updated on 17 May 2022