The MIT Enterprise Forum (MIT EF) of the Pan Arab Region announced the much anticipated semifinalists of the 10th edition of the MIT Arab Startup Competition, in partnership with Community Jameel, a social enterprise organization that operates a wide range of initiatives to promote a positive society and economic sustainability and Zain Group, a leading telecommunications innovator in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa. This year’s strategic partner is Tamkeen, Bahrain.
Zain Bahrain hosted a community engagement meeting for the visiting MIT EF team to brief the Bahraini entrepreneurship community about the event. The meeting was attended by key individuals from Bahrain Polytechnic, Bahrain Development Bank, Startup Bahrain, Tamkeen, CH9, Bahrain Institute for Banking and Finance, Global Shapers Bahrain, and others.
Three semifinalists are set to compete from Bahrain: Akalati in the Startups category; Alrawi Media W.L.L in the Social Entrepreneurship category; and ApolloGreen in the Ideas category. A bootcamp will be held for the semifinalists in Bahrain prior to the event and the final competition will be hosted in Bahrain on 27 April.
This year’s edition witnessed an unprecedented turnout with more than 8,272 applications, constituting a 39% increase in comparison to last year. The highest number of applications came from Egypt, Morocco, Libya and Saudi Arabia (through the MIT EF Saudi competition). The submitted projects tackled a variety of sectors, among the most prominent of which were software related, followed by education, healthcare and creative industries.
The semifinalists of the 10th MIT Arab Startup Competition hailed from 11 Arab countries as follows: Egypt (22 teams), Lebanon (11), UAE (10), Jordan (8), Tunisia (6), Morocco (5), Bahrain (3), Sudan (2), Libya (2), and Algeria (1). Nine Saudi Arabian teams will be added to the list from the MIT EF Saudi Competition that will be announced in March. These teams will be invited to participate in the pre boot camp training, which will be held during March in Egypt, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. The semi-finalists list can be viewed on www.mitefarab.org.
The participating teams submitted their applications through the competition’s website: mitefarab.org between 17 October 2016 till 4 January 2017.
This year’s edition is of special importance as it celebrates 10 years of success and excellence while serving generations of young Arabs and their creative entrepreneurial ideas. Cash prizes exceeding USD 160,000 will be distributed among the nine lucky winners, three per category. Beyond the cash prizes, all semifinalists will benefit from advanced training sessions, personal mentorship and guidance, not to mention a great deal of media coverage and excellent networking opportunities.
Hala Fadel, Chair of the board of MIT EF Pan Arab, commented on the importance of this 10th edition. She said, “This year, we are celebrating 10 years of entrepreneurial success in the region by bringing together our biggest edition to date. We are also celebrating everything we have accomplished so far especially in terms of our ability to develop young entrepreneurs and support their ideas, a substantial portion of which have become success stories that we take deep pride in. We have great expectations for this year’s competition whether it’s in terms of ideas, startups or social entrepreneurship. We are expecting more and more technology innovations from the MENA region this year and aim to take the most innovative of these entrepreneurs to new heights.”
Fady Jameel, President of Community Jameel International, commented on the semifinals saying: “We are happy with the diversity of the semifinalists, which reinforces the fact that the Arab world is full of talent and creativity. We have offered our full support to this successful event for 10 consecutive years now, and remain true to our commitment to see it through. As has been the case in previous years, our strong belief in this competition continues, as we strive to help generations of young entrepreneurs realize their hopes and bring their aspirations to life.”
Mr Jameel also referred to the successes achieved by the MIT Enterprise forum Arab Startup Competition in the past 9 years, which made the 10th edition a mathematical certainty. He said,
“The MIT Arab Startup Competition has demonstrated its ability to help young entrepreneurs achieve their deepest aspirations, accepting a mind blowing 8,272 applications this year.”
Commenting on Zain Group’s support of the latest MIT Arab Startup Competition, CEO Scott Gegenheimer said, “We are excited to support the competition again this year, and congratulate the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab for another milestone for the 10th year of running. We congratulate everyone responsible for bringing to life yet another edition of this outstanding competition which supports young aspiring entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams and appeals to a number of our core constituents, aligning with our outlook and values at Zain Group perfectly.”
Gegenheimer continued, “We look forward to seeing the face of innovation being revealed throughout the course of the competition and shall take the opportunity to capitalize on the most promising ideas, supporting our evolution in becoming a digital lifestyle operator.”
On this occasion Dr. Ebrahim Mohammed Janahi, Chief Executive of Tamkeen expressed his pleasure in Tamkeen’s support to this competition: “In Tamkeen we support all initiatives through which entrepreneurs are empowered to start and sustain their innovative projects in various important sectors. We are proud to host this regional competition for the first time in the Kingdom of Bahrain as we believe such competitions have the ability to encourage entrepreneurs to offer the best of their creativity in a healthy competitive environment.”
Dr. Janahi added: “We are truly pleased with the number of applicants, which exceeded 8,000 as it reflects the region’s wealth of youthful talent, which seek opportunities to showcase their innovation and skill.”
For more information on this year’s MIT Arab Startup Competition eligibility and judging criteria, as well as the planned roadshows, please visit www.mitefarab.org