Ara Fernezian, Founder & CEO of Stratecis, sheds light on the current state of the SME ecosystem in the emirate, as well as the benefits and challenges of doing business here.
Stratecis, an Abu Dhabi-based company founded in 2018, is specialized in designing and co-creating innovation marketplaces, specialist content, entrepreneurial initiatives, and experiences, in tandem with their partners, to bring the ecosystem together and connect youth entrepreneurs, young talents and early-stage businesses in sustainability with resources being knowledge, business opportunities, capital, and market access.
What is unique in Abu Dhabi is that we have the leadership, stewardship, and government support in advancing the knowledge-based economy and the desire to grow the next generation of homegrown talents and brands – and we just need the industry (private sector) to be more involved to accelerate the process.
We are still behind in policies to encourage startups to launch their ventures. Startup ventures are high-risk ventures, so we need an effective ecosystem and enabling policies; with more partnership programs between industry/colleges/startups to open new doors.
Today, the ultimate priority for entrepreneurs is to start looking at creating jobs instead of applying for them – and most importantly to learn how to fail with minimum cost; and the innovation and entrepreneurship culture should be taught as early as high school.
Another important challenge to note is that the cost of living and establishing a business is high compared to the rest of the region, with limited access to capital and tenders. This is maybe the main roadblock. We need more co-working spaces in various locations in Abu Dhabi to save startups expensive office setup costs.
Stratecis’ main contribution so far has focused on creating an effective ecosystem to enable startup growth with a special focus on sustainability; growing local solvers (entrepreneurs and innovators); connecting startups and young entrepreneurs with resources; driving the conversation to influence the industry and bridge the gaps; and promoting Abu Dhabi as a regional hub for sustainability startups and young talents
In the next 3 years, our aim is to contribute to enabling 1000 local solvers (starting from colleges); accelerating 26 new ventures (from ideas to action); engaging 26 local industry partners and 37 enablers (academia, ecosystems, corporations, etc.) to support the growth of local ventures; and ultimately enabling +500 low fidelity prototypes (to lower to the minimum the cost of failures).