RAK free zone launches start-up competition to foster SME culture

Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone has launched a business competition to foster a start-up culture in the emirate.

The RAK FTZ Start-up Champ Competition, open to contestants of all ages, is offering the prize of a business set-up package for unique and innovative business plans.

Now open to applications until September 17, business plans should be submitted to www.rakftz.com/champ.

A winner will be announced on October 14.

“We wanted to encourage creativity and innovation among start-ups,” said Ahmad Numan, the free zone’s director of marketing and corporate communications, adding that he was hoping to attract about 100 entries. “SMEs are hugely important to the UAE and we wanted to offer some support and encouragement to the sector,” he said.

The business set-up package, which includes a business licence and support services, is worth more than Dh20,000.

The free zone hosts more than 8,000 companies from more than 100 countries that are involved in more than 50 industries.

Opened in 2000, the free zone has doubled in size since 2011.

The small and medium enterprise sector makes up about 60 per cent of the UAE’s economy.

The Khalifa Fund and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Foundation for SMEs offer start-up funding and support to Emirati businesses, but funding for foreign companies can be problematic.

Given the start-up costs and no guarantee of a regular income, any help mitigating the risks of starting a business is invaluable to a fledgling company.

“I am definitely interested in applying for the Start-Up Champ Competition,” said Beverly Ravisankar, the founder of Tech World Consultancy, a start-up.

“My husband and I totally self-funded our first venture because there was no help available and banks would not offer credit, which led to sleepless nights,” she said. “Any help when you are beginning is hugely beneficial. The free zone is a great place to base a business because the UAE only has a limited population. However, we are on the doorstep of billions of people. It is a great springboard into the international business community.”


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