Empowering Dubai's women entrepreneurs with business skills

Rigorous workshop at University of Dubai and Citi Foundation produces 19 new female entrepreneur graduates

The Entrepreneurship and Business Plan Development Workshop at University of Dubai and Citi Foundation has produced a new group of graduates with 19 women entrepreneurs recently completing the rigorous course.

The wide-ranging three-month program equips women with the advanced business skills they need to realize their entrepreneurial dreams. So far 180 women have completed the course.

"The whole opportunity is remarkable," said new workshop graduate Saba El Kufaishi. "The program allowed me to get an inside look from experienced professionals. There was a good mix of students from various backgrounds and nationalities... which was a learning opportunity on its own."

Now in its seventh year, the workshop is part of the Joint Venture for Finance and Entrepreneurship, established by University of Dubai and Citi using funding from Citi Foundation.

A comprehensive array of topics are covered, including marketing techniques, how to screen business ideas, industry understanding, cash flow management, competitor and consumer insight, regulatory and ethical considerations as well as how to develop and implement a business plan.

The content of the program evolves each year to remain relevant. New modules for 2011 include how to become an effective leader and the use of social media as a marketing tool. Course teachers are all successful entrepreneurs.

This year's graduates will go on to be mentored by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development, with a select few being incubated in MBRE's Business village.

"The quality of the individual business plans speak for themselves," said Usha Saraf, Manager of the Center for Management and Professional Development at University of Dubai. "It is extremely rewarding to be instrumental in enabling women to realize their potential and in turn contribute directly to the economy of the country."