KHDA-Certified Entrepreneurship Academy Mind Cloud Is Coming To Dubai

The brainchild of Genny Ghanimeh, a Dubai-based serial entrepreneur, Mind Cloud is designed to offer theoretical and practical entrepreneurship-related courses both online and offline.

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By Tamara Pupic

Mind Cloud
Genny Ghanimeh, founder, Pi Slice and Mind Cloud Academy.

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Mind Cloud, a newly established business leadership academy certified by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) of the Government of Dubai, will officially open its doors to aspiring entrepreneurs, SME owners, and forward-thinking intrapreneurs in September 2017. The brainchild of Genny Ghanimeh, a Dubai-based serial entrepreneur, Mind Cloud is designed to offer theoretical and practical entrepreneurship-related courses both online and offline, distinctively focusing on enhancing the resilience and mental toughness of its students. The academy is built around a 12-week-long business leadership bootcamp that Ghanimeh organized in partnership with the Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC) and in5 last year.

The successful program provided direct insight into the state of the region's offering of entrepreneurship-related courses, leading Ghanimeh to identify three gaps in the market, namely a lack of educational programs which are specifically tailored for region-based entrepreneurs, which are open to a wider audience, and which cover more personal aspects of entrepreneurship, such as how to overcome occupational depression. Now, as Mind Cloud gets set to open its doors officially in September, it has once again partnered with DBWC to launch a pilot initiative in July 2017, which will see it deliver a business entrepreneurship program in association with in5 and startAD over the course of five weekends.

"At the heart of the council's ongoing work is our commitment to support women in Dubai and help them participate fully across all areas of economic life," said DBWC President Dr. Raja Al Gurg, as she commented on her organization's partnership with Mind Cloud. "Encouraging entrepreneurship is an important part of inspiring women to be the best they can be and supporting them in unlocking their potential. The Mind Cloud Entrepreneurship Program is an innovative business venture that is in line with our mission to promote gender balance and aid women of the UAE in their fearless ambitions to make ever more valuable contributions to society." Speaking about what attendees can expect from enrolling in the Mind Cloud program, Nadine Halabi, Business Development Manager at DBWC, added, "With innovation and education being central to the development of human capital, this one-of-a-kind program will target an inclusive audience of students, SME entrepreneurs and corporate employees with an A-Z curriculum of tailor-made theoretical and practical courses led by real entrepreneurs."

Nadine Halabi, Business Development Manager, DBWC.Image credit: DBWC.

Mind Cloud provides targeted online and offline learning, with the offline program officially commencing in September 2017, with a total of 10 courses covering a range of topics, from mindful leadership to design thinking and pivoting strategies, among others. In addition to earning a KHDA-certified entrepreneurship diploma for the overall course, the academy offers a per course KHDA certification for participants not interested in enrolling in the whole program. The online academy, which will be launched at the beginning of 2018, will offer 80 KHDA-certified online courses covering the same 10 topics as the offline academy, and leading to earning the same per program diploma or per course certification. The online academy will be offered in both English and Arabic. Both the online and offline academies will also serve as a gateway to the region's entrepreneurial ecosystem, connecting the students with a network of well-established investors and entrepreneurs.

"The courses are given by entrepreneurs-facilitators from the region, bringing their own wealth of experience into each course," Ghanimeh explains. "Learning any entrepreneurial program is great, but entrepreneurship is also about execution, and execution is about first understanding your own context and where you are operating. Mind Cloud focuses on the region not only from the perspective of market particularities and applicable business skills, but also from cultural and societal perspectives, which is something that Western programs cannot give to students from this region. Furthermore, the majority of the programs here are focusing on young entrepreneurs with new and innovative ideas, but not one of them is supporting existing entrepreneurs and small business owners who can use these same programs to learn how to pivot or grow their business, while overcoming their existing challenges. Also, no program caters for employees to train them to be entrepreneurial within their companies. Lastly, we have also noticed that not one program focuses on the entrepreneurs themselves, providing them with the mental support and soft skills they need to sustain one of the toughest career choices to make."

Ghanimeh explains that the Mind Cloud curriculum has been developed to respond to the demands of the ongoing narrative pushing for individualism and entrepreneurship, but still failing to methodically address all the often difficult dimensions of that career path, such as financial hardship, health challenges, and extreme stress caused by daily setbacks, negative feedback, or erratic schedules. Mind Cloud will also take a holistic and nurturing tutorial approach with a focus on "mindful" leadership. It will teach mental resilience and leadership skills for overcoming inner critical voices, instill a mindset of innovation-based thinking in recruits, and provide practical and theoretical knowledge via access to a highly skilled network of mentors and peers. In addition to entrepreneurs looking for sound advice and a reliable support system, last summer's pilot Mind Cloud bootcamp attracted university students and employees of Dubai-based corporations, who were eager to embrace creative thinking to solve in-corporate tasks and better respond to ever-changing market challenges.

Related: Why Everyone Should Take A Course In Entrepreneurship

Dr Raja Al Gurg, MD, Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group and President, DBWC. Image credit: DBWC.
Mind Cloud Corporate allows corporations to sponsor their employees enrolling in the course, and follow their progress and measure the impact through a dedicated microsite on the Mind Cloud website. Ghanimeh explains that while internationally-based corporations acknowledge the high possibility of technological disruption, most of the MENA-based large companies have underdeveloped innovation strategies. "I was pleasantly surprised with the diversity of the audience," she says. "We had aspiring entrepreneurs who wanted to open their own ventures and either didn't know where to start, or wanted to validate their model and offering, as well as small business owners who struggled with finding new growth channels or wanted to test their existing business model. Yet, the third type of attendees were corporate employees who wanted to learn how to be more intrapreneurial, understand new market trends, and find new ways and processes to incorporate into their day-to-day work. Lastly, we had fresh graduates who were interested in finding their passion."

It should come as no surprise that Ghanimeh's efforts in building Mind Cloud has its origins in her own entrepreneurial journey. Before founding Pi Slice, an online microfinance crowdfunding platform for the MENA region, in 2012, Ghanimeh set up and managed Pi Investments, a boutique advisory for mergers and acquisitions deals in emerging countries, in 2007, and her first company Pro-ID in 2003. "It started with a burnout I went through with my previous startup [Pi Slice]," Ghanimeh says. "The challenge with burnout is that it is very difficult to diagnose and even recognize it. Furthermore, how do we heal from burnout? Doctors don't really know. On my road to recovery, I was lucky to connect to one of my close friends, also an entrepreneur, who was going through a similar phase. We became each other's support system. We had to, because we had no one else to talk to. Looking back, this organic and situational induced support system was exactly what helped us both recover and come back even fuller inside and bigger in our hearts and minds. I progressively became aware how our false understanding of work led us to dissatisfaction, stress and ultimately burnout. I let my work define me, and with that control me and harm me."

Image credit: Mind Cloud.
"The danger with entrepreneurs is that they merge further with their endeavor. Their startup no longer defines them; it becomes them. With this new fire burning inside me, and with the years of mentoring other entrepreneurs, academic skills accumulated along the way, and a passion to help others and express who I am. It became my calling and responsibility to give back what I was given, and to create a platform of support and empower entrepreneurs who want to overcome their own challenges. As it is always the case when one is on a purpose trail, I started attracting people of similar calling and complementary skills and talents. I did the first pilot for the program, the success and impact of which were so rewarding."

As for potential hurdles in the road ahead, Ghanimeh is quite hopeful about the positive change that Mind Cloud could bring to the MENA entrepreneurial ecosystem. "Mind Cloud is innovative and disruptive in its educational and support offering," she says. "We don't consider it as a business as much as creating a new mindset, with the mission to foster and empower a new way of thinking. The challenge we anticipate is the challenge of any innovative thought leader, which is to provoke, sooner than later, a change in existing mindsets."

Related: Making The Case For Kids To Have An Entrepreneurship Education

Tamara Pupic

Managing Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Tamara Pupic is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Middle East.

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