More than 2,000 Emirati students have taken part in the Akoun Entrepreneurship Awareness Campaign - the highest figure since the initiative's launch four years ago.
The initiative's 'Business Idea' competition also attracted a record number of 148 submissions. The winners will receive vital startup funding to help launch their businesses.
Launched by the Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development (ADCED), the initiative aims to inspire young Emiratis to pursue careers in the private sector by setting up their own small and medium businesses, through practical workshops held across universities in the UAE.
During the current phase of the Initiative, workshops were held in 23 universities in the UAE over the last five months for students aged between 18 and 30. The workshops provide students with opportunities to learn more about entrepreneurship from successful Emirati business owners. They can also meet representatives from partner organizations from whom they can seek practical and expert advice.
Akoun's 'Business Idea' competition will award startup capital to up to 27 Emirati students to help launch their businesses, as well as provide them with guidance, resources and counsel. This year, competition applications were received from all emirates. These entries will be reviewed by a committee composed of representatives from ADCED and Akoun's partner organisations, and the results will be announced by the end of August.
Commenting on the success of the fourth phase of Akoun, Fahad Saeed Al Raqbani, ADCED's Director-General, said, "This year's highly successful campaign reached a record number of students. Since we launched the initiative four years ago, we have developed and widened our campaign to encourage as many young Emiratis as possible to consider entrepreneurship and the rewards it can bring." "The huge success of this campaign is a testimony that Emirati university graduates are becoming more and more interested in setting up their own businesses after graduation. This year, we have received some very strong submissions indeed," Al Raqbani added.
"The entries received are diverse and contain original ideas. Akoun, with the support of our partners, is an ideal platform from which students can turn their business ideas into reality, with the full support and guidance of experts in the field. We look forward to working with this latest generation of aspiring entrepreneurs. We would like to thank all our partners for their commitment and dedication to support the initiative, without their support we would not have been able to make such an achievement." Al Raqbani concluded.
Three winners will be selected from each emirate, plus Al Ain and the Western Region. The winners will receive funding of AED25,000 for first place, AED15,000 for second place, and AED10,000 for third place. Partner organisations, including Khalifa Fund, will provide additional financial and non-financial support for winners who meet specific criteria. To enter the competition, students were required to submit detailed business plans online via the Akoun official website. All competition entrants will receive feedback on their submissions.
The 2013 Akoun initiative was held in partnership with Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce, The Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders, Entrepreneurs Forum, Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, Ruwad Establishment, Western Region Development Council, Khalifa Fund, TwoFour54 and the Department of Economic Development.