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Future Emirati entrepreneurs bag cash prizes.

Abu Dhabi: Twenty-four Emirati students walked away with cash prizes at the fourth best business idea competition conducted by Akoun in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

The initiative, Akoun, which means aACAyto be' in Arabic was launched in 2009 by the Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development (ADCED) in partnership with the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Western Region Development Council and Twofour54.

It aims to inspire young Emiratis to pursue a career in the private sector by setting up their own small and medium businesses.

"The talent we have seen in this year's competition has been exceptional. The record number of submissions made the selection process incredibly difficult for the judges at the selection committee," said Fahd Saeed Al Raqabani, director-general of ADCED.

"In their search for the best business ideas they were looking for unique and imaginative ideas supported by resourceful and comprehensive business plans. A great number of entries met these criteria," he added.

More than 2,000 Emirati students from all over the country -- Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Al Gharbia, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain -- took part in this year's workshops, which were organised at 22 universities.

Around 148 entries were received compared with 113 entries last year. The number of winners this year rose to 24 compared with nine honoured the previous year.

Dh25,000 funding was given for first place, Dh15,000 for second place and Dh10,000 for third place.

Emirati winners expressed their gratitude for the financial and non-financial support they received, which enabled them to start their own businesses.

Afra Shames Al Mazroui, 24, a junior student at the Higher Colleges of Technology, walked away with Dh10,000 to complete her project, which aims to reduce the amount of clothes bought in the UAE.

"Many Emirati ladies buy fancy dresses to attend weddings and other occasions and throw them away after wearing them just once. I wanted to help through my project, which focuses on adjusting these dresses and reselling them at lower prices," she added.

Three female students worked together to invent a machine which lights up streets when it is foggy.

Success stories

Shaima and Sindeyah Rashid Al Hamoudi and Marwa Obaid, Ajman University graduates, worked on their project for almost 12 months and attended workshops to receive advice and feedback on their submissions.

"We are planning to establish our own business. We know that we are still at the beginning of our career; however, we will continue to seek advice from experts to prove that our project deserves support and funding," Sindeyah added.

"We hope this year's winners will pursue their endeavours and join other Emirati entrepreneurial talents through turning their winning ideas into reality. We look forward to seeing this generation advance to become success stories for Akoun and the UAE," Al Raqabani said.

He went on to say that anyone, regardless of nationality, can contribute to setting up businesses.

"ADCED is inviting non-Emiratis to join hands with Emiratis, create imaginative ideas and innovative projects which can develop the UAE's economy further and encourage the growth of the private sector within the country," he added.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Sep 11, 2013
Words:547
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