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Entrepreneurs combat recession.

Summary: While some might think it unwise to take risks in the current economic gloom, there are a few who disagree. Kipp takes a look at the power of the entrepreneur.

The big film of the moment, The Social Network, focuses on the risks, complications and possible breakdowns associated with the ventures of entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg. And yet the overwhelming success of the ubiquitous Facebook is enough to make one's heart race and wonder at the possibility of taking the plunge and starting your own business. But, then again, the current economic situation is enough to frighten even the bravest of us into collecting our savings in a pile and sitting on it.

Or maybe not. Recent research shows that entrepreneurship is on the increase since the recession. A study from the Kauffman Foundation, a prominent think tank specialized in the field of entrepreneurship, found that in 2009 an average of 320 out of 100,000 adults created a new business each month last year even as the recession took hold (a significant increase from previous years). Economists say that it is very common for people to turn to entrepreneurship in times of a recession, in particular because finding a job maybe daunting, frustrating or just not possible.

In fact, it is entrepreneurial ventures that are catalysts to recovery during a recession, as they provide niche services and employment opportunities. Gulf News' Hisham Wyne says entrepreneurs are "the lifeblood of the new economy (C*) startups are often responsible for catalyzing (C*) pecuniary well-being." He goes on to say that, "Despite the cards being sometimes stacked against them, several young entrepreneurs in Dubai have started viable businesses through dint of competence and persistence."

Some, like Ally Pace, have found that the recession has provided the perfect opportunity for entrepreneurship. Pace, who freelances as a copy writer based in Dubai, took a risk by leaving her full time office job but feels it has paid off. She notes that in these recessionary times, corporations prefer to hire experienced freelancers than to outsource it to an expensive agency or use full time in house writing staff.

Setting up a business is not without challenges, however. In the UAE it can prove problematic for most expats because legislation requires the presence of an Emirati partner. But Pace recommends the purchase of a free zone freelance visa, which can be used by a variety of professions -- everything from copywriters, designers, marketing consultants to make-up artists. The freelancing visa also allows expats to live and work legally in the UAE even after experiencing a redundancy.

There are a fair number of recessionary entrepreneur success stories from the UAE circulating the web, so Kipp took a quick look at the local entrepreneurship scene.

Cabarles Flowers: from fresh to hand-crafted flowers

Consider the example of Cabarles Flowers, a Dubai flower shop that suffered significant losses in the recession. After sales dropped by 30 percent, managing director June Cabarles ventured into handcrafted flowers in an attempt to boost sales. His hand crafted efforts -- made from locally produced articles like pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, almonds, dried roses, shells of peanuts and pistachio nuts -- offer his hotel and office clients the chance to save up to 80 percent while retaining the aesthetics of their fresh flowers order.

Wild Peeta- Dubai first fusion shawarma shop

Over a year ago two Emirati brothers started a fusion shawarma shop in Dubai Healthcare City with a desire to provide a local option for healthy fast food. Incurring their fair share of setbacks and disappointments, (including a massive flooding which put them out of business for four months), the Wahadi brothers are now pleased with the positive returns of their venture and they have two new outlets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the pipeline.

The Foo Dog- Creating 3D Canvases

Dubai Men's College alumnus Mohammed Abedin created The Foo Dog, a company that supplies eight-inch vinyl dolls to artists, painters and customizers. The Japanese-inspired dolls are essentially a canvas in 3-D, offering a form of self-expression. Upon completion, The Foo Dogs were showcased in an exhibition and then auctioned -- the proceeds of the auction went to the artists. Currently mass produced versions of MEGA dolls are available at Virgin for AED 149 a piece. When asked what it takes to be an entrepreneur in Dubai, Abedin says "the only way to learn to be an entrepreneur is to be an entrepreneur. Others can help and advise, but you only really learn your business by going about it. Tenacity, persistence and a sense of humor are essential."

Entrepreneurs in Entrepreneurship

And then there are those that are entrepreneurs in the field of entrepreneurship. Case in point, the Emirati twins who launched the Shelter in 2009. Rashid Bin Shabib and Ahmad Bin Shabib, co-founders of Shelter, converted a 40,000 square foot warehouse in Al Quoz to provide office space and support material needed for budding entrepreneurs, from freelance writers, to architects, and bloggers. The Shelter has since developed a reputation for being the center of the arts scene in Dubai and alternative entertainment as it also houses a mini-cinema, a large reception space to hold events, and a cafe operated by More Cafe. Or how about Claire Fenner and Georgie Hearson foray into the world of entrepreneurship with Heels & Deals in April 2009, a networking organization set up exclusively for businesswomen in the UAE. Heals & Deals, which provides an avenue for businesswomen of the region to network and seek advice from their colleagues, now has 160 members and 1,300 women on its database.

Now, to help identify the entrepreneurs of the future, Al Ahli Holding has teamed up with the British Council to stage the first Global Youth Forum in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday and Thursday. The forum will bring together young, future entrepreneurs from around the globe (from Jordan, South Africa , Argentina , Brazil , United Kingdom and one hundred Emirati students). It's hoped the students will discover, identify and grow their entrepreneurial skills, create multinational networks, and discuss significant issues concerning their future.

Rajeeb Day, CEO Enternships.com and visiting speaker says, "Entrepreneurs are not limited by geographical boundaries. We may be from different countries but we share a common culture; a desire to make a difference, a desire to add value and create opportunities in the world through business and social enterprise."

Visiting speaker and Entrepreneur Diana Bird from Wedgecard says, "When like minded people meet an energy is created. Entrepreneurship is all about energy, exploring new ideas and meeting new contacts. This Forum is an important first step for these young people."

2009 Dubai Business | Kippreport. All Rights Reserved.

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Publication:Kippreport
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Oct 5, 2010
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