Zain Group, a leading mobile telecom innovator in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa confirms its digital partnership of the 2020 edition of the highly impactful MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) Pan Arab Startup Competition. This year’s collaboration represents the sixth consecutive year Zain has partnered the region’s leading startup competition, which has produced numerous successful ventures over the years.
Undeterred by logistical challenges raised by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, rather than cancel this year’s competition, the decision was taken to host it in a virtual setting. The MITEF Pan Arab Startup Competition has seen over 4,000 applications this year, with Zain joining other distinguished organizations including Community Jameel (Main Partner) and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Innovation Partner) in partnering the competition this year.
The MITEF Pan Arab Startup Competition is an annual event designed to empower entrepreneurs and foster an eco-system of innovation and entrepreneurship across the Arab region. The conference and competition pits entrepreneurs in three tracks: Ideas, Startups and Social Entrepreneurship. Winning teams are in the running to participate in prize money and equity-free funding, and are set to also benefit from a range of other activities including top tier training, mentorship, coaching, media exposure and networking opportunities.
In total, 53 semi-finalist teams across the three tracks are through to the semi-finals of the competition (16 semi-finalists in the Ideas track, 21 in the startups track, and 16 in the Social Entrepreneurship track). This year, the semi-finalists hail from Saudi Arabia (nine participants) Egypt (nine), Jordan (seven), Lebanon (six), Bahrain (four), UAE (four), Tunisia (three), Palestine (two), Morocco (two), and one semi-finalist from Algeria, Germany, Luxembourg, Qatar, Syria, Turkey and the UK, respectively.
Zain has been partnering this competition over the years on the firm belief that today’s innovators are tomorrow’s differentiators. Zain’s management is impressed by the high caliber of entries from across three continents in this year’s competition and expect the virtual nature of proceedings will result in a truly inspiring international event.
Maya Rahal, Managing Director of MITEF Pan Arab said, “We all are truly excited about the opportunity to collaborate with Zain Group for our first all-digital competition. It is through such partnerships with transformational players in the digital ecosystem that we can overcome the challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic. In times such as these, we are only as strong as the entities we cooperate with, and we are proud to have established lanes of synergy over the course of 13 years organizing the MITEF Arab Startup Competition. I want to take this opportunity to invite everyone to join our upcoming virtual conference on June 24, which will mark a turning point in all our future programs and initiatives.”
Included in the semifinalists are six winners from Zain Jordan’s ‘Zain Al-Mubadara’ competition, with the main industries that most of the 53 semifinalists are operating in are Education Technology, Consumer Services and Productivity Apps, Digital Technologies, and Construction/Engineering.
The virtual competition will see all semi-finalist teams face a panel of judges remotely, to pitch and answer any questions about their business models, value propositions, and growth plans. All teams will also receive an intensive remote training session organized by King Abdullah University of Science & Technology.