Ma’an launches the inaugural edition of the ADSEF at NYU Abu Dhabi

Adgully Bureau |

Abu Dhabi: The Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an in partnership with startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based startup accelerator powered by Tamkeen and anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), has launched the inaugural edition of the Abu Dhabi Social Entrepreneurship Forum.

The Abu Dhabi Social Entrepreneurship Forum highlighted pressing factors of social entrepreneurship on a local and global scale, and the importance of upskilling youth to contribute to the cause, through a series of roundtable discussions and workshops.

The event was attended by 150 people including government officials, faculty and students, NGOs, investors, social entrepreneurs, startup founders and more. Panel discussions were held on the topics of healthy lifestyles and youth for climate action, along with a think tank brainstorming session looking to the future, showcasing 12 local and international social enterprises, including 10 alumni from The Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an.  

This comes as part of a three-year partnership to develop Abu Dhabi as the global centre of social innovation. Ma’an and startAD, powered by Tamkeen and anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi, joined hands to offer a unique chance for early-stage entrepreneurs to develop their social impact startups and scale into social enterprises through the Ma’an Social Incubator (MSI). Designed to boost innovation and facilitate knowledge sharing, this year’s MSI runs under the theme of sustainability to align with Abu Dhabi’s Vision 2030 and the upcoming COP28.

His Excellency Salem Ali Al Shamsi, Social Incubation and Contracting Executive Director of The Authority of Social Contribution –Ma’an, said: “Today’s forum underlines The Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an’s aim to support innovative social enterprises to accelerate the growth and development of a diverse and highly effective Third Sector in Abu Dhabi. Serving as a hub for passionate individuals who understand that entrepreneurship can be a powerful force for good, the forum encouraged knowledge sharing between like-minded people.

In line with the Government of Abu Dhabi’s ongoing commitment to sustainable social development, we aspire through the Ma’an Social Incubator to encourage innovation and social entrepreneurship to develop solutions to social, cultural, or environmental challenges and achieving long-term positive impact in our community.”

Through collaborations with the Third Sector, government, and private entities, Ma’an has supported various projects in education, health, environment, and social sectors to ultimately amplify a culture of social participation, while aiming to strengthen Abu Dhabi’s position as a key destination.

Managing Director of startAD Ramesh Jagannathan added: “We are delighted to witness the fruits of our collaboration with the Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an, as we launch the inaugural edition of The Social Entrepreneurship Forum. The event embodies our shared goal of addressing the critical challenges that social entrepreneurship faces, both in our local communities and on a global scale. The need to arm our youth with the essential skills and knowledge to make a meaningful contribution to this mission is of paramount importance. We proudly facilitated connections between investors, student entrepreneurs, and academic institutions, creating a dynamic platform for all to engage and collaborate.

“The foundations we have laid during this forum are a testament to our dedication to see social entrepreneurship flourish, and our commitment to empower the youth of today to be the change-makers of tomorrow,” he added.

Aiming to bridge the gap between investors, student entrepreneurs, and academic institutions, the forum serves as a platform for diverse stakeholders and UAE-based budding and established social enterprises to collaborate and foster a culture of social innovation.

In light of the upcoming COP28 summit, students, entrepreneurs, investors, and government bodies had the unique opportunity to connect and share insights about youth engagement’s vital role around climate action in the Middle East. Topics for discussion included the contribution of the UAE’s social entrepreneurship policies to the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Furthermore, the forum provided university students with opportunities to learn about social entrepreneurship and receive accelerator coaching from industry experts. It also connected social entrepreneurs with angel investors to help provide seed funding for promising business ideas.