More than 65 teams of student entrepreneurs from schools throughout the UAE have put forward their business ideas for inclusion in the region’s first school-based accelerator programme, the Youth Entrepreneurship Accelerator powered by GEMS World Academy – Dubai (GWA) and sponsored by CAFU.
Open to pupils across the GEMS Education network, the accelerator, which is based and managed by staff at GWA, aims to support early-stage, growth-focused businesses through education and mentorship, transforming students into founders and their dreams and ideas into fully-fledged start-ups.
Since late February, the programme’s selection team has been reviewing submissions from students in Grades 9-12 (Years 10-13), drawing up the final list of 12 teams, made up of 42 students in total, who will benefit from after-school sessions led by digital EdTech platform 8billionideas.
Speaking at the accelerator’s launch event on 13 March, Helen Al Uzaizi, Director of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Social Impact at GEMS World Academy – Dubai, said: “With the changes the world is seeing today, instilling an entrepreneurial mind-set within our students is more important than ever. Through this real-life, project-based approach to business, students will build the skills that are essential for their future. The accelerator is the first of its kind to bring this high level of business acumen and entrepreneurial support that we see within global accelerators for adult entrepreneurs. Our goal through this programme is to help students develop real investment-ready businesses.”
Over the course of the next 12 weeks, the selected students will be guided by a cohort of experienced mentors who will provide feedback on their work as they proceed through the programme. Each participating team will comprise a CEO, Product Manager, Chief Marketing Officer, Innovation Lead, and Chief Financial Officer.
As the accelerator’s main sponsor, CAFU, will provide mentorship and access to its network of business experts, to help all participating students grow and succeed. In addition, CAFU will also cover all costs of the programme.
Nabra Al Busaidi, Community and Sustainability Manager at CAFU, said, “The Youth Entrepreneurship Accelerator programme offers an exciting opportunity to work and collaborate with the next generation of changemakers, and we are delighted to be sponsoring this initiative by GEMS Education and GEMS World Academy – Dubai. At CAFU, we are fully committed to supporting the growth and development of young entrepreneurs. By empowering students and fostering their entrepreneurial spirit, this unique offering will help safeguard the UAE’s startup ecosystem. As a Dubai-born brand, deeply rooted in the UAE, this is something that is close to our hearts, and we believe that this accelerator will prepare tomorrow’s leaders for success in an ever-evolving economic landscape.”
Topics covered by the programme include: problem identification and solution; solution development and prototyping; marketing sizing and go-to-market strategy; financial modelling and planning; resourcing, leadership, and management; and investor pitching.
The programme will culminate in a ‘Demo Day’ scheduled in May, when students will have the chance to showcase their work in a live final and pitch their start-ups to external investors.
Confirmed businesses for the accelerator include: Tranquil, which aims to support teens’ mental health via an online platform that tracks their wellbeing journey; Carbon Wallet, an AI-driven app that rewards users’ participation in sustainable practices and activities; and YOLO, an app designed to facilitate and ease conversation in potentially awkward social settings.