At the culmination of their Eco-preneurship program’s first stage, the Bootcamp, hosted in collaboration with Terra – The Sustainability Pavillion at Expo City Dubai; the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) and Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation (AGF) made a public announcement regarding their official partnership through the program.
This coincided with the announcement of the Bootcamp’s winners, which they said marked a significant milestone in the entrepreneurial landscape.
The collaborative initiative received over one thousand applicants, and accepted 150 individuals, kicking off a ten-day Bootcamp for Youth participants from diverse backgrounds, including Emiratis and Arabs from around the world.
These aspiring entrepreneurs represented over ten universities from 15 countries, including Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates.
The “Eco-preneurship Program” was originally introduced in September and invited applicants to partake in a four-month journey. This initiative, currently in motion, aims to transform budding ideas into impactful startups, with a spotlight on sustainable and eco-conscious values.
This entrepreneurial journey consists of four stages, each strategically designed to guide budding entrepreneurs from ideation to fruition.
With a focus on activating startups that align with eco-conscious values, the program aims to foster both business growth and sustainability on a global scale.
The participating teams in the program are competing for a sum equity-free grant of AED 275,000, which will be awarded in two phases of the competition. This includes equity-free grants for the top five winning teams emerging from the Bootcamp, as well as the three winning teams of the pitch competition at COP28.
During the 10-day ideation bootcamp, supported by Expo City as a venue partner, 150 selected participants, aged 18 to 35, were provided with the tools, mentorship, and insights necessary to transform their entrepreneurial visions into tangible reality.
The program identified five successful participants: Waste Busters, AIN, ECOSAT, Falaj, and Golden Roots.
Each startup pitched ideas for creating awareness and promoting sustainable practices within the food waste reduction, agriculture, renewable energy, artificial intelligence, and environmental monitoring sectors.
Waste Busters plans to launch a gaming app to reduce food waste, while AIN is dedicated to providing solar energy for irrigation.
ECOSAT’s winning concept uses AI to monitor air pollution, and Team Falaj promotes sustainable farming for greener landscapes. Golden Roots, meanwhile, aims to help farms improve soil fertility.
Furthermore, the Eco-preneurship Program honoured the top five teams that successfully completed the boot camp by collectively awarding them an equity-free grant of AED 125,000 to support their preparations for the next phase of the program.
In the second pre-acceleration phase, the Eco-preneurship Program will progress to the Sheraa Hub in Sharjah, where the five teams will embark on a six-week intensive journey, delving into business modelling, marketing strategies, legal frameworks, alongside other invaluable opportunities.
These three teams will also receive a share of an equity-free grant pool worth AED 150,000 provided by the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation.
The pre-acceleration phase will culminate with a pitch competition at COP28, where the top three teams will advance to the accelerator phase, a life-changing 16-week specialised program.
Through one-on-one coaching from experienced Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, access to a vast network of clients and partners, and financial grants, the accelerator phase equips participants with a formidable arsenal of skills to enter the market.
Sheraa and AGF have also ensured that even those who couldn’t advance to the pre-acceleration stage will still benefit from the wisdom and resources of the program. The “Startup Blueprint” offers an eight-week online platform for continuous development, allowing all participants to nurture their ideas and navigate the complex world of entrepreneurship at their own pace.
Speaking about the incredible opportunity for the youth, Sheraa CEO Najla Al-Midfa said: “Innovation thrives when it meets purpose – and through the Eco-preneurship Program, we’re forging purposeful innovation that will shape our global future. At Sheraa, we believe in the power of the youth to transform ideas into impactful ventures to fuel economic growth and drive positive environmental change. Through our exciting partnership with the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation, and by combining entrepreneurship with eco-consciousness, we’re nurturing startups as well as cultivating a movement that addresses the most pressing challenges of our time.”
Dr. Sonia Ben Jaafar, Chief Executive Officer of Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation, said: “Today’s entrepreneurial landscape is rapidly evolving, prompting us at the Foundation to craft bespoke solutions. Inspired by the UAE government’s emphasis on green education partnerships for a sustainable future, we’re forging green alliances, like our partnership organizations like Sheraa, to bolster our innovative endeavors. Our commitment is unwavering: to empower the next generation to devise and roll out sustainable solutions. Sheraa is equipping these budding eco-preneurs with the business savvy and market connections required to deliver the balanced solutions our world urgently needs. We extend our gratitude to Expo City Dubai for their pivotal support and resources, which have been instrumental to our program’s triumph. Such collaborations are pivotal in magnifying the SDG impact we strive to achieve.”
Marjan Faraidooni, Chief of Education and Culture at Expo City Dubai, said: “Promoting a sense of responsibility towards the environment and nurturing ideas with the potential to address climate challenges are at the heart of what we do at Expo City Dubai. The Eco-preneurship Program exemplifies the power of collaboration and we look forward to seeing how the five selected projects develop their concepts into tangible, impactful solutions.”