The Entrepreneur's Wishlist (Part Two): Changes We'd Like To See In The MENA Startup Ecosystem
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What needs to be changed and improved in the MENA entrepreneurial ecosystem for it to become known as an innovation economy worldwide? At this year's edition of STEP Conference, we talked with Ammar Al-Malik, Managing Director, Dubai Internet City, PK Gulati, President, TiE Dubai, Muhammed Meki, Founding Partner, AstroLabs, Philip Bahoshy, founder and CEO, Magnitt, Samer Choucair, Director, CE-Creates, and Salem Al Qassimi, founder, Fikra Design Studio.
Is it about investors becoming more confident to write the very first cheque to a startup, as stated by Gulati? "At this point in time, we do see a lot of initiatives, but much of that support is in-kind, such as a licence or a place to work. We do need that, no question about that, but what we also need is cash support so that startup founders can hire the right team and build a company for the future," Gulati said. Choucair agrees that there is already a lot of support, especially from the UAE government, but points out that there is still quite costly to start a business in the UAE. "A lot of costs associated with starting a business [here] are hidden costs. I think that some modifications to regulation can really have a huge impact on that front," he said. "For example, visa costs, and not just the costs of a single visa, but it's the fact that startups in general should be able to easily and cost-effectively hire and fire people." Al Qassimi adds that it is important to talk with entrepreneurs not only about their current challenges but about the future ones as well. "Creating ecosystems that would facilitate entrepreneurs of the future would lead to better things," he said. Check out the video to learn more!