The Dubai Next Crowdfunding Platform Successfully Funds Its First Project Within A Month Of Its Launch In just over a month, the Emirate's first digital crowdfunding program has successfully assisted its first project, by an Emirati entrepreneur, in raising the required capital to launch his startup, Padel 26.

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Dubai Next
Abdul Baset Al Janahi (right), CEO, Dubai SME; Saeed Al Marri (left), Deputy CEO, Dubai SME, with Yousuf Al Arif, founder, Padel 26

In May this year, Dubai Next, a digital platform that enables innovators and entrepreneurs in Dubai to secure funding for their projects, was launched by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai.

In just over a month, the Emirate's first digital crowdfunding program has successfully assisted its first project led by Emirati entrepreneur Yousuf Al Arif, in raising the required capital to launch his startup, Padel 26. Contributors on the Dubai Next platform helped raise AED100,000 for the startup.

The rest of the capital was provided by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Fund for SMEs, which is a non-profit entity that provides loans and financial assistance to businesses owned and managed by Emirati entrepreneurs.

Al Arif was offered financial support via Dubai Next after having worked on the business plan and feasibility studies for his project for an entire year. The project is all set to create four indoor doubles courts of Padel, a sport that requires lesser area than a typical tennis court.

Following Padel 26's successful funding, Vemudra, an innovative project by two teenagers that provides an institute aggregator website that helps students develop their extracurricular talents, has also been able to raise 100% of its required funds on Dubai Next.

Related: Dubai Chamber Of Commerce And Industry Restructured As Three Separate Entities To Support The City's Ambitions As A Global Business Hub

Built with an aim to encourage and support sharing of promising ideas through crowdfunding, Dubai Next's integrated virtual platform works towards ensuring the UAE's highly competitive SME sector can continue to thrive and contribute to the national economy.

In a bid to encourage greater entrepreneurship among the youth of the nation, the platform allows entrepreneurs to create online campaigns to attract funds that can provide a much needed boost to launch their business ideas.

Through its crowdfunding feature, Dubai Next is also looking to allow the community to directly participate in supporting new and enterprising projects, which in turn can promote the growth of enterprises and society alike.

Operated by Dubai SME, which is an integrated division of the Department of Economic Development (DED), Dubai Next is open to people of all nationalities and age groups living in the UAE. Any business idea, except for projects that are supposed to be shari'ah compliant, are eligible for funding on the platform; however, the business must be located in Dubai.

"Contributors may have many reasons to support a campaign," said Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME. "Either they may be inspired by the project or the expected reward, or want to support a friend or family member. Whatever be the reason, people have the opportunity to contribute towards bringing a novel idea to life. Contributing to a campaign doesn't help the campaign owner or the contributor only, but it eventually supports Dubai's economy too," he added.

The platform comes with a foolproof, risk-free model as well. While contributors on Dubai Next get to choose from a plethora of rewards offered by the campaign owners themselves, the amount contributed will also be refunded if the campaign fails to reach its financial target. Additionally, the entrepreneurs and campaign owners will be ensured 100% ownership of their projects. However, the Dubai Next platform cannot be used to offer equity or financial returns.

"We encourage students of all age groups too, especially graduates who seek funding for their graduation projects, to use Dubai Next as an opportunity to turn their ideas into reality," added AL Janahi. "The 50 Year Charter of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, seeks to transform universities into free and creative economic zones, and Dubai Next is aligned to His Highness's vision."

Since its launch, Dubai Next has seen a total of 543 campaign submissions on its platform, of which 44 campaigns have been live. The projects have included innovative ideas across various industries, such as business, food, technology, education, design, film and video, gaming, health, as well as arts. Till date, the total funding requested on the site has exceeded AED27.7 million, while the projects themselves have received 72 contributions from 58 supporters.

Related: Dubai Chamber's Future Growth Forum Highlights Growth Prospects For Dubai's Economy

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