Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center and Crescent Enterprises join hands to support startups amid COVID-19




  • An equity-free grant pool with ticket sizes of up to $50,000 available for Sheraa portfolio startups
  • Applications to open in May 2020
  • 72% of entrepreneur respondents in a survey confirmed that their businesses were negatively impacted by COVID-19, and over 74% stated financial support was needed to cover employee salaries

In line with the recently launched #UbuntuLoveChallenge, a global initiative spearheaded by Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa), and Mamadou Kwidjim Toure, founder of the Africa 2.0 Foundation, CE-Ventures has joined forces with the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) to support the UAE startup community and provide equity-free grants to Sheraa’s existing portfolio startups. Ticket sizes will be up to $50,000, offering these ventures a lifeline to ensure they remain afloat as they navigate current challenges.

The joint effort between CE-Ventures; the venture capital platform of diversified global business Crescent Enterprises, and Sheraa; a leading hub for entrepreneurship and innovation, comes on the heels of Sheraa’s $1 million Startup Solidarity Fund announcement, made earlier this month.

In order to assess the impact of COVID-19 on entrepreneurs and identify the most pressing challenges founders are facing, Sheraa, in partnership with CE-Ventures, conducted a survey among 150+ entrepreneurs from their community. The findings will be used to tailor support offerings in the most efficient way possible.

72% of respondents confirmed that their businesses were negatively impacted to a certain extent since the COVID-19 crisis began, leading to cost cutting measures.

For most startups, the greatest obstacle was their cash runway, with 79% of entrepreneurs having between 1-6 months of runway. 74.3% of the entrepreneurs stated financial support was necessary to cover employee salaries.

In response to the financial pressures faced, 65% of the surveyed entrepreneurs have reported to be currently carrying out fundraising efforts.

NAJLA AL MIDFA, CEO OF SHERAA, SAID:

“Crescent Enterprises has always been a supportive partner to Sheraa, and was among the first to reach out to us when the crisis hit. This partnership speaks to our shared commitment to supporting entrepreneurs and developing a nurturing environment for innovative ventures. These grants will enable high-potential startups, whose growth and impact have been unduly derailed by COVID, to extend their cash runways.”

BADR JAFAR, CEO, CRESCENT ENTERPRISES COMMENTED:

“With governments and frontline workers springing into action to tackle the immediate effects of the pandemic, everyone has an important role to play in supporting our social and economic foundations. The entrepreneurial ecosystem is a crucial pillar of our economy, and we must come together in a collective effort to support promising startups through this turbulent time. Our long-standing partnership with Sheraa is built with the purpose of nurturing entrepreneurial communities across the UAE and the wider MENA region, and we pledge to do what is necessary to support this community and stand together in the face of adversity.”

TUSHAR SINGHVI, DIRECTOR, CE-VENTURES, SAID:

“The direct impact of startups on the cities they call home is plentiful, and now is the time to support them as they navigate these challenging times. From boosting the economy with revolutionary technology to creating new industries, they are increasingly integral to a thriving economy. Through this initiative, we will work to ensure their survival. We look forward to supporting entrepreneurs through what is an interim challenge, as the UAE looks forward to reaping long-term socio-economic benefits of their prosperity.”

The application process for the equity-free grant pool is set to open in the last two weeks of May 2020, after which startups will be shortlisted by a committee consisting of members from CE-Ventures, Sheraa and an independent venture capital firm. A set list of criteria has been drawn and will focus on various areas including product concept and roadmap, market opportunity, conversion funnel, and financial plan.



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