Sheraa Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa – www.sheraa.ae), has launched the 2023 edition of the Startup Dojo, a youth incubation program that has been designed keeping young entrepreneurs in mind. The eight-week intensive training and mentorship program takes place every summer to enable young talent to develop their entrepreneurial solutions and gain real-world experience of starting and running their own businesses.
In 2023, Sharjah was ranked within the Top 5 Emerging MENA Ecosystems in Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER). Last year, startups at saw a 26% increase in funds raised, totaling $161 million and have generated revenue of $247 million.
This year, Startup Dojo has seen strong participation from Emirati youth who make up 81% of attendees at this prestigious program. The participation demographic for this edition is reflective of Sharjah’s vibrant ecosystem and its myriad entrepreneurial opportunities in a variety of sectors.
Startup Dojo 2023 will benefit a 50-student cohort from various UAE universities who represent 16 diverse teams, each with a unique idea that has immense entrepreneurial potential. Sheraa has included groups that exhibited excellence in their previously held Sheraa Sustainability Hackathon 2023 and at the Sheraa Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF) 2022 in order to ensure the continuance of their entrepreneurial journeys, which is a key objective for the entity.
Najla Al Midfaa, CEO of Sheraa, commented, “Like any formative life skill, entrepreneurship is seen to reap wonderful results when taught early. This incubation program is one of Sheraa’s leading youth-focused platforms, where their creativity, passion and impact-driving attitude are encouraged and honed to a point where they feel confident about entering the competitive world of entrepreneurship”.
“Each year, we see students coming up with new ideas, demanding new knowledge and skill sets, and expecting bespoke training reflective of fast-changing global trends and market demands. In this sense, Startup Dojo needs to serve the youth as a dynamic mentoring platform that fulfils their aspirations while also teaching them the core and unchanging fundamentals of entrepreneurship,” she added.
Diversity and inclusion at the heart of the program
The incubation program fosters diversity and inclusivity with a balanced participant representation of participants. Among the 16 participating teams, 38 percent are from the American University of Sharjah (AUS), 31 percent hail from the University of Sharjah (UoS), and the remaining 31 percent represent other universities in the region.
Moreover, the program further upholds gender equality, with a 50:50 male-female participant ratio.
After learning how to build and market business ideas with the support of other young innovators, industry mentors and successful entrepreneurs, the top three teams will receive cash prizes and other benefits that will serve as a stepping stone for venture building activities.
Sheraa’s mission is to maximise human potential, empower entrepreneurial talent, and foster a nurturing startup ecosystem that draws the world towards Sharjah.