After a successful inaugural cycle that launched 10 skilled entrepreneurs and their businesses, Sharjah-based startup accelerator Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) is now inviting applications from within the UAE and globally for its second cycle. Early-stage ventures seeking a launch pad to scale their ventures can stand to gain by applying to the Emirate’s flagship accelerator that ends with a demo day, where startups pitch to investors and other ecosystem stakeholders. Interestingly, the first edition of the demo day even saw the presence of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.Based at the American University of Sharjah, the program focuses on “scaling innovative, high-growth ventures that drive economic diversification and job creation,” and selected startups are supported with equity-free seed funding of up to US$10,000, a free Sharjah-based trade license, and rent-free office space at Sheraa, and mentorship. Besides these benefits, for the upcoming edition, Sheraa has also partnered with corporations such as Air Arabia, Beeah, and Crescent to help upstarts tackle market challenges, and explore business opportunities.
“This cohort will put more emphasis on startups that have market-product fit and market traction in terms of sales and active users,” explains Najla Al-Midfa, General Manager, Sheraa. “It will also be focused on technology-enabled businesses that can scale both locally and regionally,” she adds. With regard to opening up the program for global entries, Al-Midfa says it was intended to fast track Sheraa’s impact on the MENA entrepreneurship ecosystem. “We believe that opening up the program will help in driving innovation, creating jobs, and in establishing Sharjah as a leading hub for startups and entrepreneurial talent.”
For its second cycle, Sheraa says it’s looking for businesses (across industries) that are past the idea stage with a working product or service, have achieved "at least three months of traction (active users or revenue or signed contracts/MOUs),” and have potential to scale both locally and regionally. The deadline for applications is August 31, 2017, with the three-month program launching in October this year. Hurry and visit the official website to apply.