Safeguard Your Startup With An Intellectual Property Strategy

Intellectual property gives you the legal right to prevent others from stealing the intangible assets at the core of your business. Your ability to protect and assert these rights can determine the success or failure of your business, and so, this is taken seriously by investors, who will want to see that you have a strategy to manage your intellectual property assets. In the words of Mark Getty (“Blood and Oil,” The Economist, March 4, 2000): “Intellectual property is the oil of the 21st century. Look at the richest men a hundred years ago; they all made their money extracting natural resources or moving them around. All today’s richest men have made their money out of intellectual property.”

STARTUPS AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Startups usually don’t have a significant asset base. They could be an individual with an innovative idea who hasn’t begun to trade, or a small business, which has just started operating. If you have founded a startup, it is ironically exactly this lack of assets that makes it so critical you identify and protect the assets you do have, your “intellectual assets.” This is because it’s often your intellectual assets that will differentiate you, deliver your competitive advantage, and go on to drive revenue. Conversely, failure to identify and protect your intellectual assets can mean your business fails, generally because someone more established sees the business succeeding, and takes the essence of what is special about it– your innovation.

Or it could be that you are inadvertently building your business around someone else’s intellectual assets, in which case they may simply require you to stop. How then do you protect your intellectual assets? The answer is, depending on the type of intellectual asset, it may be able to be protected as “intellectual property” (IP). This is the name for legally enforceable intellectual rights. There are lots of different types of IP: copyright, trademarks, patents, design rights, and trade secrets probably being the ones you hear mentioned most frequently. People will often say: “But the business doesn’t have any IP.” This shows a basic misunderstanding about what IP is– it also pre-supposes that IP, like a physical asset, is something you always need to consciously “make” or “purchase.”

The reality is that everyone reading this article will have brought IP into existence. While it’s true of some IP rights that you need to apply for a formal registration in each country where you use them, other types of IP rights arise automatically. They are in effect a natural by-product, brought into existence automatically as the founders of startups record their ideas, style their business livery, take their marketing photos, draws their designs, or write code for their apps. As soon as these acts happen, valuable and protectable IP rights (in these cases copyright works) come into existence. You have them, whether you know it or not. They arise whether you like it or not. This means, just as for your other assets, your bank account, your laptops, your premises– you should plan to manage them, make a record of them, and try not to lose them.

WHY EVERY STARTUP NEEDS AN IP STRATEGY

The challenge for founders of startups is that resources (financial and human) are generally limited, and so, hard decisions need to be made about how to allocate them. This makes it more critical that startups think about their IP strategy earlier, and be cleverer to keep their costs down. For example, by keeping the details of their innovation confidential, an inventor can protect it as a trade secret, and so, defer the costs of applying for a patent until the startup is funded. By checking the assignment provisions in their agreements with consultants, a founder can ensure the business owns the IP rights in the materials it pays for. Just because you pay for something to be developed does not mean you own it. Of course, the list of “easy if you plan for them” fixes goes on- formulating a clear and practical strategy to manage and protect your IP, and aligning this with your business plan is key.

A good IP strategy is based on the needs not only of the business in the present, but also provides a framework for protecting the business as it grows. It will put simple processes in place to identify a business’s IP as it is created, then capture it, and finally protect it. It will also help a business to take measures to check it isn’t infringing someone else’s IP. Protecting IP will mean different things to different businesses. It could mean protecting software, AI technology, furniture designs, or brands. It may involve preserving copyright and trade secrets, or perhaps registering patents, designs, domain names, or trademarks.

Most startups will not have the luxury of applying to protect all of their potentially registrable IP rights at the outset. Financial constraints will mean that difficult decisions will need to be made regarding which IP right or rights to prioritize. This is where a clear strategy comes into play. It enables a business to plan step by step, and budget sequentially. Where the budget is insufficient and hard decisions need to be made, so long as this is recognized at an early stage, strategies can be employed to limit, or delay, spend until the business develops.

COMMON PROBLEMS STARTUPS FACE WITH IP

Startups may range widely across market and product/ service sectors, but they tend to suffer from some similar, very basic, problems when it comes to IP. Who owns the IP? Ownership of IP assets is one of these. Often there is more than one founder collaborating to launch a startup. In addition, there may also be consultants retained to help with business processes, design logos, design websites, write code, carry out market research, draft marketing materials, etc. Unless the underlying IP in what all these individuals create is properly assigned, in writing and in the correct form, the startup company itself will not own it, the rights will remain with the individuals.

The startup may not even be properly licensed to use the IP. This is despite paying for it. Software, in particular, can create problems. The software trail must be audited to see who is responsible for the code and the company needs the copyright. Should you disclose your IP? Accidental disclosure of trade secrets is another common problem. It is critical that you take steps to maintain secrecy until proper decisions are made: either to seek patent protection, to continue to protect by way of trade secret, or to disclose (so no-one else can claim a monopoly right).

You should also ensure that the employees and consultants who work for you don’t disclose your confidential information or trade secrets. Use confidentiality provisions in contracts, keep valuable know-how, data, test results, and client lists physically secure. Install robust date security systems. How do I let others use my business IP? If you want to allow others to use your business IP, you should document this in a written license agreement.

Licensing your IP is a little like leasing out an apartment. You need to decide how long the license runs for, how it can be ended, who can use the IP, where they can use it, what they can use it for, and whether they can be forced to share it with other people. This article is only intended as an introduction, but hopefully it serves to illustrate the value of spending some time, and budgeting a little money, at an early stage, to formulate an IP strategy for your business to provide a strong foundation for future growth, expansion and investment, and potentially even an IPO or sale.

By Jacqueline Hooper, Principal Consultant in the Dubai office of Rouse

This article was originally published on Entrepreneur Middle East and has been reposted on Dubai Startup Hub based on a mutual agreement between the websites. 

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Sheraa Launches New Entrepreneurship Hub At University Of Sharjah

Located at the University of Sharjah (UoS) campus, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) has launched its second hub in the Emirate. Inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the space is committed to supporting aspiring entrepreneurs and students alike, by providing access to a variety of resources such as mentoring sessions, workshops, hackathons, plus the chance to be a part of Sheraa’s programs.

Talking to Entrepreneur Middle East, Sheraa CEO Najla Al Midfa comments, “This has always been our plan. Sharjah, as you know, is a hub for education and is home to many universities, and Sheraa would like to have a presence in all these different educational institutions, because at the end of the day, they are producing the next generation of entrepreneurs. And we do want to be closer to them.”

There are numerous events on the cards for UAE’s entrepreneurial community- starting off with Sheraa’s new pre-seed program, the Startup Weekend competition set to be held on September 27, followed by the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF) later in November. So entrepreneurs, get your ideas and startups ready!

This article was originally published on Entrepreneur Middle East and has been reposted on Dubai Startup Hub based on a mutual agreement between the websites. 

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Khalifa Fund Calls For Entries For Second Edition Of Pitch@Palace Competition

The Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development is inviting creative entrepreneurs to participate in the second edition of its Pitch@PalaceUAE competition and the first Gulf edition of the competition titled Pitch@PalaceGCC.

The competitions serve as a global platform for entrepreneurs and innovators to showcase their projects to a group of businessmen and executive heads of prestigious companies, to get the help and support to amplify their businesses.

The deadline for entries is August 15, 2018.

Both editions of Pitch@Palace are strategic partners of the Pitch@Palace Global competition, which was launched in 2014 by His Royal Highness Prince Andrew, Duke of York in the United Kingdom.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Pitch@Palace plays a vital role in supporting innovative enterprises and ideas at local and regional levels.

The initiative aims to forge a new generation of entrepreneurs from the UAE and the rest of the GCC, while also fostering a culture of innovation and supporting the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across countries in the region.

Commenting on the competition, His Excellency Abdulla Al Darmaki, CEO of Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, said in a press statement: “We look forward with confidence to the upcoming Pitch@Palace, which highlights Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development’s commitment to instill a culture of entrepreneurship among Emiratis and Gulf residents while also promoting a culture of innovation and sustainable growth for SMEs that will further drive social and economic development.”

The first UAE edition of the competition featured several new projects, and identified two Emirati winners who came up with unique projects, at the local and global levels: Faraj Al Faraj, creator of the ‘Brailleye’ device, and Mansour Al Kaabi, creator of the ‘Dwak’ application.

Brailleye is designed to help visually impaired individuals read in Braille or obtain audio versions of a scanned text, making users feel independent and giving them greater access to the world of books and literature.

The ‘Dwak App’ is a smartphone application that makes the task of sticking to medications easier and prevents potential health risks caused by incorrect dosage. The app sends automatic reminders to users every time they need to take tablets or follow course of medicine, while keeping track of the user’s prescriptions to remind him when it is time for a refill.

The Khalifa Fund focuses on supporting innovative projects and shifting the focus from economic entrepreneurship to innovative entrepreneurship in the UAE. The Fund works in in line with the UAE’s national agenda to become one of the leading countries in the world by 2021.

For registration and more information, visit: http://pitchatpalaceuae.com

12 Things You Need To Know To Start A Business In Dubai

Dubai is the commercial capital of United Arab Emirates. This “city of gold” provides vast business opportunities and innovative commercial modules for enterprises from around the world. International exposure and an investor-friendly government are just two of the factors that motivate entrepreneurs to start a business in Dubai. Startups in Dubai also get perks on investments and tax advantages when compared to other countries.

But irrespective of the approachable business setup procedures, it can be difficult for a new entity to understand the process of setting up a business. Wondering how to get started? Here’s a primer on what you need to know about starting a business in Dubai:

1. You will need to decide your business activity beforehand When you decide to do business in Dubai, you need to know that there are certain limitations. Not all business activities are allowed in the UAE! Various consents are required before you start your business in Dubai. Thus, the first thing to do business is to decide whether your business fits in as per the Dubai standards.

2. You need to pick the right jurisdiction Business jurisdictions in Dubai are segregated zonally to increase the competence as well as productivity of a business. Dubai offers mainland business setups, freezone company formations, and offshore business establishments. Opting for the right jurisdiction depends on the business activity and the nature of the business you would like to conduct.

3. You can choose among the shareholding structures Company setup in Dubai is determined by the shareholding structure. This will also distinguish the legal form of your business. The shareholding structure must be in cohesion to your business operation and preferred jurisdiction. Here are the shareholding structures that you could opt for:

  • Limited Liability Company
  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General Partnership
  • Partnership in Commendams
  • Public Shareholding
  • Private Shareholding
  • Joint Venture
  • Shared Partnership
  • SME License
  • Representative Offices
  • Branch Offices
  • Limited Partnership

4. You need to partner with a reliable UAE national To start a business in the Dubai mainland, it is a mandate to partner with a UAE national. The challenge is to find a trustworthy and reliable UAE business partner. It is stated that the UAE local partner will hold 51% of partnership. In terms of freezone, a company would require a local service agent, who would work for a nominal fee. It is best to get into an agreement with a silent partner- this will assure security and complete control on your business.

5. Your trade name needs to be registered with the DED You need to give a name to your company as per the standards mentioned by the Department of Economic Development (DED). The trade name acts as an identity of your business, and thus DED emphasizes on associating the name as per the license type. It takes around three days to register a trade name, and it is valid for a period of six months.

6. Your business activity needs to be approved In Dubai, only a few commercial activities are not permissible, some activities have restrictions, while others are completely prohibited! According to the Law No. 13 of 2011, the Dubai DED is the accountable body to decide, regulate, classify, permit and license all the economic activities. However, this is not applied to freezones and offshore business setups.

7. You may need external approvals for your business in Dubai DED dispenses trade license to businesses and deals with investors. But, at times you may require external approvals to start your business. Generally, these permissions are acquired by the non-governmental & semi-governmental bodies.

8. You need to rent a business premise Having a physical existence is obligatory for every business in Dubai. The tenancy agreement, Real Estate Regulation Authority (RERA) documents, and EJARI needs to be submitted, following which the initial approval is granted by the DED.

9. You need to get the initial approval from DED The DED grants the initial approval on submission of all the required documents. The initial approval is also accreditation from the DED to start your business. You can start your business at this stage and continue with the process of acquiring your trade license.

10. You need to draft the MOA/LSA for your business Drafting the Memorandum of Association (MOA) or the Local Service Agent (LSA) agreement is yet another important task. The MOA specifies the share of limitations and liberty every partner has within the company, while the LSA describes the role of the agent and fulfils the compliance that will be performed. MOA/LSA are legal documents and should be drafted with the help of a legal advisor. They also need to be translated in Arabic.

11. You need to follow all of the company registration and business license procedures In Dubai, company registration and business licensing are a parallel process. Once the company is registered by DED, the business license will be processed and could be collected duly. Business licenses are provided mainly depending on the nature of the business activity and the jurisdiction of the business. The most prominent licenses for business setup in Dubai are: commercial license, industrial license, and professional license. It takes around one week or more to get the trade license from the time you receive your initial approval. This mainly depends on the business activity and the external documentation. Here is the general list of documents and certifications that are required for business setup in Dubai.

  • License Application
  • Attested LLC agreement
  • Governmental forms
  • Name reservation certificate
  • Initial approval certificate
  • External departments approval
  • Tenancy contract
  • EJARI registration certificate
  • Passport copies partners and NOC for partners (if any)
  • Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry Registration
  • Endorsements from Governmental Agencies (For Gas and Oil Companies)
  • UAE Central Bank Approval and License (For Financial Institutions)
  • Finance and Industry Ministry Certification (For Manufacturing Companies)
  • Economy and Commerce Ministry Certification (For Insurance Companies)
  • Health Ministry Certification (For Medical & Pharmaceutical Firms)

12. You need to collect your business license to start your activity A payment voucher or transaction number will be provided by the DED on submission of the all the listed documents. The final payment needs to be made to collect the business trade license. Once you collect your trade license, you become a full-fledged business entity.

Based on the preceding details, it is evident that Dubai company registration is an extensive process! Nevertheless, you can make it quick and cost-effective by appointing a business setup consultant. With a knowledgeable business consultant, you won’t waste your money on unwanted documents. Also, as they are well-versed with the procedure, company formation can be instant. So, all the best with your business!

By Sandhya Soans, Senior Content Writer, Shuraa.com, the leading business setup service provider. For more details on Shuraa’s services, check out Shuraa.com.

A Step-By-Step Guide To Setting Up A Business In Dubai

Are you thinking of starting your business in Dubai? Congratulations, you have chosen one of the best business ecosystems in the world for your new endeavor. Dubai is more than mere a city of architectural marvels– it is one of the most fertile grounds for new businesses. This is just one of the many things that make the commercial capital of UAE the best place to live and work. And as for starting up a business here, there’s no question that there’s a lot of potential to be tapped here in Dubai. So, if you are eager to set up your own enterprise, this article will help explain what you need to know and do to get your company registered and off the ground.

We have equipped this article with necessary links to guide you about the process and documentation required. Take a good look at the below before you kick off the actual process- the good news, though, is that on average, if you are ready with all required documents, it takes less than 10 days to start your company in Dubai. So, let’s start!

What you need to know beforehand

As you commence with the actual process of registering your business, here is what you should be aware of beforehand to make things less complicated.

Economic zone and ownership: As soon as you are prepared to set up your company, you must find out what business zone or ownership type would best suit you. Dubai Economic Department has a list of over 2100 (business) activities you can choose from. Follow this link for details on business activities: https://bit.ly/2pFAZgv

For deciding upon the zone, you must know that Dubai offers different types of economic zones for operating a business: Free Zone, Off Shore and Mainland, all of which offer different advantages depending on your business type and activities. Here are the two main zones that entrepreneurs use most commonly in the Emirate:

  • Free Zone: Offering the luxury of 100 percent foreign national ownership, Free Zones are Dubai’s way of attracting and encouraging foreign investment by making it easier to set up business and easing down the immigration and labor processes. There are around 45 Free Zones in the UAE, of which around 25 are in Dubai, each of which caters to specific categories of business. You can find out more about the concept of Free Zone and register for it here: https://bit.ly/2GqOydU.
  • Mainland: If you want to operate in Dubai mainland, you have to register with Department of Economic Development (DED), which will then issue you with a Dubai business license.

Types of licenses: Based upon the kind of business activity, you will be required to first identify the type of license you need. Again, DED is responsible for the issuance of license. Mainly there are three types of licenses you can look at: Commercial (for Limited Liabilities Company or LLCs) License, Industrial License, and Professional License.

Need for local sponsors: For starting any kind of business in UAE under a DED license, you need a local sponsor, or an agent, or a partner. However, this is not mandatory, but having local support can help you in many ways. So, do a little research and find out how your business will benefit with this addition, in case it is not a compulsion for your kind of business.

Now that you know about the background and requirements to start with the official procedure of registering your company, here’s how you go about to apply and obtain a business license in Dubai.

Getting your business registered

1. Select the category of business: The first step you have to be sure about is the type or category of business you have. In case you find it difficult to define your business and cannot find your type in the official lists of the business activities as per DED, you can enquire directly at : Department of Economic Development (DED).

2. Find the right legal form: Contrary to what the name suggests, this is NOT a legal document or a form to be filled. The location and type of your business decide what the make-up of your firm will be and this depends on the Free Zone or the area of operation you select. You will have to check which business activities match which legal forms. Use the same link as above for details.

3. Choose a trade name: This is an important part of the entire setting-up-business cycle in Dubai. You are expected to select a trade name that matches the kind of services your company plans to offer. You then have to pay trade name reservation fees within 72 hours of receiving this voucher. All the rules and regulations related to trade name can be found here: https://bit.ly/2pD7We9.

4. Minimum investment: Different businesses have different requirements; however, it is not compulsory in majority of businesses to have an initial investment.

5. Begin with initial approvals: At this point, you must obtain a kind of “no-objection” from DED and use a number of channels for the same. You can visit one of the Service Centers or explore Happiness Lounge and you can also use the following link to use the online services for the same: https://bit.ly/2IRSrXS.

6. Prepare agreements and select premises: Based on the legal form of your business, you might need to create and sign a Memorandum of Association (MOA) or a Local Service Agent (LSA) / Corporate Agent agreement with a local support (UAE national). Also, at this stage you will have to finalize a physical address for your company.

7. Submit documents and get a license: Before heading to the last step of the journey of registration of your business, make sure your type of business does not require any additional approvals. Once everything is done, you just have to submit all the documents and process all the payments. You have to pay for your trade license within 30 days of receiving a payment voucher. In case of non payment for six months, the transaction is automatically cancelled.

The Missing Factor: The Key Component Overlooked By Startup Ecosystems And Innovation Strategies

This article was originally published on Entrepreneur Middle East.

Across the globe, it is now a trend of sorts to establish and support startup ecosystems and programs, from co-working spaces to startup accelerators, all with an aim to grow entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems. These ecosystems and programs, based on supporting startups from ideation to execution through the development of proof of concept (POC) and minimum viable products (MVP), correctly highlight the importance of entrepreneurship in advancing our economies. Indeed, some of these are essential when we consider a myriad of industries that are going obsolete, fading or failing.

Startups start small, but they soon begin contributing significantly to economic growth. Not only do they create more employment opportunities and improve employment patterns as they grow (as in the case of Google), but more importantly, their innovative solutions inject vitality to real problems they are solving. Benchmarking startup ecosystems in the US, Dane Stangler, a research manager at the Kauffman Foundation, notes that there are about 500,000 new businesses created annually in the US, all of which help maintain a total of two million startups- at 30%, there are more of them than any other type of company, and between 48% to 50% of startups survive to their fifth year. If you net out job turnover, each startup creates about two net new jobs every year. Companies less than one year old have created an average of 1.5 million jobs per year over the past three decades.

However, in spite of the many support structures designed for startups, the data indicates that those ecosystems are also failing to some extent. The Kauffman Foundation reports that the percentage of entrepreneurs owning a startup has been declining since the 90s, and the Brookings Institution found that the startup rate (the number of new companies as a percentage of all firms) has fallen by nearly half since the 80s. At the same time, seed/angel investors completed about 900 deals in the second quarter of 2017, down from 1,500 deals (40%) during the same time period in 2015, according to a Venture Capital Data report released in June by Seattle-based PitchBook Inc.

 

The current number of accelerators globally according to StartupBlink.com.Image Source: Mind Cloud Academy.

 

Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking 2015 by StartupGenome.com.Image Source: Mind Cloud Academy.

 

Number of Deals in Startup Investment by CB Insights; PwC.Image Source:Mind Cloud Academy

While all of this is happening, established corporations are, in parallel, feeling the heat of all the digital disruptions around the world. In response, those companies, usually with big budgets at their disposal, have started designing innovation strategies and establishing innovation labs. Similar to startup accelerators, these labs aim to fund and execute ideas into POCs, and then into the requisite MVPs. It is a good step forward as those conventional corporations have a wealth of established infrastructures, networks, markets, data and resources, not to mention the human capital and households they foster and support. Any successful innovation on that level, aside from sometimes being crucial to the corporation’s relevancy, sustains a whole economic ecosystem around it.

But there’s a catch here too. In reality, most of these innovation labs will produce only tweaks and small incremental improvements to today’s already existing business models, as opposed to the major changes in internal corporate behavior they are designed to trigger and establish. Actually, this is quite predictable, since corporate managers and executives are often given the control of the labs’ agenda, but no clear mandate. Corporate innovation labs fail to see opportunities through the lens of customer experience- they require a financial forecast for an innovation project before testing it in the real world, and when they provide funding to a startup, they hold back on the corporate’s most important resources: markets accessibility and scalability.

 

2017 Directory of Corporate R&D and Innovation Labs by Globalfuturist.com. Image Source: Mind Cloud Academy

And the end result? While such strategies start off as being purposeful and well-meaning, they simply fail to reach its goals– to put it simply, startup ecosystems are shrinking, and corporate innovation labs are not delivering, even with all the funding and support thrown at them. So, where is the disconnect happening? In my opinion, we are all missing the forest for the trees. You see, what these entrepreneurship and innovation strategies miss to look at are the already existing MSMEs and SMEs which constitute the major bulk of every economy. This gap exists, due to all the interest and attention completely overlooking these largest elements of any economy.

In case you aren’t convinced, take a look at these figures. In the US, businesses with fewer than 50 employees represent 95% of all US companies, of which 3.7 million MSMEs account alone to 10% of the private workforce. In Brazil, 6.3 million of MSMEs and SMEs account for 30% of the GDP while employing more than 60% of the workforce. In Denmark, 212,850 SMEs constitute 97% of all Danish companies, employing 65% of all the workforce. In Australia, SMEs account for 96% of all businesses and employ more than 63% of the workforce. In the United Arab Emirates, SMEs account for 95% of all companies, employing 45% of the total workforce, while MSMEs account for 75% of total business count.

MSME Density across the world. Image Source: Mind Cloud Academy

It’s important to note here that these small businesses are facing the same economic challenges of changing markets metrics, shifting consumers behaviors and disrupting new technologies. However, since they are not categorized as startups, they miss on that category’s support from the government or the startup ecosystem. They don’t have enough funds, and thus can’t run their own innovation labs or simply deploy growth strategies. They are stuck in their growth, cannibalized in their markets and margins, and unquestionably demoralized.

Lessons from the trenches 

Now, I run the Mind Cloud Entrepreneurship Program in Dubai, where our applicants are future entrepreneurs working on their new idea, future intrapreneurs working on new channels and strategies for their corporations, and small business owners looking to get unstuck and develop new growth strategies.

I have captured two stories to demonstrate how this last segment mentioned can benefit from such a program, and in return how such a small business, when it’s back in a growth stage, can benefit the economy again.

In 2008, D.G. founded her payroll solutions company in Dubai, providing both a service and a solution for HR and payroll software to the Middle East market. At heart, D.G. is an HR person. With a master’s degree in HR, she is delighted that this is also the field her entrepreneurial spirit has taken her. Aiming to learn the theory and practice of pitching a new product in the market, D.G. joined the Mind Cloud program. Her unexpected benefit were the networking opportunities and the exposure to the world of investors. As she was challenged in launching a new online HR and payroll solution to micro and small businesses in the UAE, the course empowered her with a better understanding of the latest concepts of entrepreneurship as a whole. In particular, D.G. understood her unique value proposition, how to identify the right initial key strategic partners, and reach out to them.

Here’s one more example. M.C. runs a Dubai-based fruit delivery company dedicated to sourcing the most delicious, seasonal fruit the region has to offer. M.C. was keen to join Mind Cloud to take her business forward, and plan her next phase of growth. Having been surrounded by a group of motivated and dedicated mentors and entrepreneurs, M.C. was re-energized and inspired– in her own words, she had come to the program “feeling isolated and almost demotivated.” Under the mentorship of the Mind Cloud team and our trainers, she committed herself to a rigorous process of learning, questioning her existing practices and applying new concepts. As an outcome, M.C. is now motivated and equipped with the skills and strategies to make sure there is a fruitful future ahead, one of which is that she realized her business needed a new logistical algorithm.

In conclusion: every small business can be a success. It may not make millions, but it is still a reflection of someone’s dream, effort, and work invested to make it happen. It is a link in the supply chain, a part of a community, and a provider to the people involved. Real impact is measured in the quality of life and number of new jobs created– a number of dreams and hopes made real and prosperous.

During the Mind Cloud program, we can never actually measure the real impact we create at the economic level, neither for each of the small businesses individually nor collectively, but we can certainly work on the transformation and empowerment that participating entrepreneurs relay to us. That alone changed me. I now realize that helping people develop their potential and become prosperous is my purpose.

In true prosperity, there is humility in knowing that every little increment matters, every person matters, every dream matters, every talent matters. In an ever-growing narrative about the big and global economies, perhaps we need to take a step back and remember the smaller players- after all, they are the ones that really matter.

By Genny Ghanimeh