The MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) of the Pan Arab region, in partnership with Community Jameel, the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of Abdul Latif Jameel and Zain Group, a leading mobile telecom innovator across the Middle East and Africa, announced that a total of 78 teams from 15 countries have qualified for the next round of the prestigious MITEF Arab Startup Competition, with the final winners’ ceremony now confirmed to be held at King Abdallah Economic City, in Saudi Arabia on April 14, 2016.
The ninth edition of the MITEF Arab Startup competition received a record 5,967 individual and team applications (comprising over 16,500 entrepreneurs) from 21 countries across the Arab world. The three tracks that entrants applied for are: Ideas, Startups, and Social Entrepreneurship with total prize money on offer in excess of US$150,000. Each of the three tracks will award the first three ranked winners with cash prizes in addition to many other benefits including: top tier training, mentorship, coaching, media exposure, and great networking opportunities.
The selected 78 teams will start receiving entrepreneurship-focused training during pre-boot camps scheduled to be conducted in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE later this month and in early March, and will start working to achieve specific deliverables in their specific tracks. The national origins of the groups and the corresponding number of semi-finalists who made it to the second round include: Egypt (19), Jordan (10), Lebanon (7), Tunisia (7), Saudi Arabia (6), United Arab Emirates (6), Palestine (6), Morocco (4), Kuwait (3), Bahrain (2), Qatar (2), Sudan (2), Syria (2), Algeria (1), Yemen (1).
Hala Fadel, Chair of the Board of MITEF Pan Arab commented, “The record number of applications submitted from across the Arab region this year clearly indicates a steady increase in the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship of the region’s youth. Particularly noteworthy is the significant increase in applications received from Saudi Arabia, from five percent last year to nearly twenty percent this year, which promises a great event at King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia this April. We look forward to meeting and supporting some of the Middle East’s most promising youth as they start and continue their entrepreneurial journeys.”
Fady Jameel, President of Community Jameel International commented, “The launch of the MITEF Saudi Chapter last year provided an extra opportunity for the Saudi-based entrepreneurs to apply for the competition. The applications submitted for the MITEF Saudi Startup Competition demonstrated great promise, showcasing quality entrepreneurial ideas and startups. Therefore, it was difficult to choose from such a wealth of talent the six winners who will go on to be part of the MITEF Pan Arab Competition. With such impressive talent coming forward in the competitions, it is with great pleasure that Community Jameel pledges its continuous support to the entrepreneurs of the MENA region.”
Zain Group CEO, Scott Gegenheimer said, “We at Zain are proud to foster the growth of this competition as we recognize that much of the region’s future development will be driven by young people in technology, whose ideas and the ability to turn them into something constructive and sustainable have been and will continue to be the success story of modern society. Congratulations to the 78 semi-finalists and we are looking forward to interacting with this year’s aspiring entrepreneurs and shall take the opportunity to capitalize on the most promising innovative ideas in the regional digital space supporting our evolution to becoming a digital lifestyle provider.”
On 13 April, during a four-day final event in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 10 finalists will be announced from each track. These short-listed teams will pitch their ideas to a panel of investors and successful entrepreneurs on 14 April, and the final three ranked winners of the Ideas, Startups, and Social Entrepreneurship tracks will be announced and awarded cash prizes during a gala dinner that same evening. Also during the day, a MIT Technology Review Pan Arab conference will be held.