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Dubai foundation and Microsoft to foster Arab entrepreneurship

posted on 06/04/2009: 869 views

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation and Microsoft Gulf have launched a project to help young Arab entrepreneurs create high-tech businesses and generate jobs in the region.

The Dubai-based Foundation, launched two years ago with an endowment of US$10 billion, will partner with the US software company's BizSpark programme to provide start-ups with better access to advanced technologies. Adel Rashid Al Shared, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of the Foundation, and Charbel Fakhoury, General Manager of Microsoft Gulf, signed a memorandum of understanding for the project on Sunday.

"The new partnership is in line with our focus on promoting knowledge-based economic activities in the Arab world,” Al Shared told Khaleej Times. The partnership has set up six training centres for young business leaders in six countries, and it expects to be operating 22 of the facilities by 2010.

In addition to helping speed up the development of start-ups with BizSpark, the Foundation and Microsoft Gulf want to spread technological skills within the local community to help create jobs and career opportunities, Al Shared said.

"The Foundation will work closely with Microsoft to help these businesses use technology to achieve success through providing educational programmes, business mentoring and networking,” he said.

The Foundation was set up in 2007 with the objective of opening doors for new generations of Arab leaders by providing them with a better education.

BizSpark is available to privately held start-ups that are building a software-based product or service, have been in business for less than three years, and generate less than US$1 million in revenue. Regional start-ups can enroll in the programme if they get sponsored by the Foundation.

Fakhoury said building the economy is an important part of Microsoft's broader mission and that entrepreneurship is a key component of that growth. "During times of economic stress,” he said, "it is even more important that start-ups have the technology and market resource support they need to succeed.” – Khaleej Times


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