Zain Group, the leading mobile telecom innovator in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa, is pleased to announce it is offering full financial and strategic support to three startup initiatives, which have been generated through the company’s innovative internal ideas generating e-platform, Zainiac.
Zainiac was originated and introduced in late 2017 by Zain Vice-Chairman and Group CEO, Bader Al-Kharafi, to act as an internal e-platform and community for all Zain Group personnel (Zainers) where ideas are shared, and solutions are created aimed at stimulating creativity within the company. The platform allows Zainers across the Group on a bi-annual basis to suggest innovative ideas, share challenges, and collaborate in a bid to achieve common goals.
To date, more than 300 initiatives and project ideas have been submitted with the main aim of the initiative being to promote internal innovation and motivate Zainers to start new businesses, and hopefully become the next unicorns in our region.
The Zainiac platform is an acknowledgment of the huge talent pool assembled within Zain Group and aims to promote synergies among country operations, leveraging the benefits of crowd-sourcing of new ideas and business models. As part of the initiative, Zain organizes workshops with leading global partners and mentors which focus on establishing and fostering startup competencies.
In the first cycle of entrepreneurial ideas submitted to Zainiac, four were short-listed for further development and submitted to Zain Group senior executives to mentor and develop their value proposition and business models. These ideas were then pitched to the Vice-Chairman and Group CEO, and three were green-lit to receive the full support and funding from Zain.
Commenting on the selection of the three ideas for commercialization, Bader Al Kharafi said, “This generation of successful innovative ideas will become one of the greatest differentiators between societies that progress into the future. We are very clear in our view that for Zain to remain innovative and competitive, we need to generate ideas from wherever we can find them and seeking them out internally is one of many prudent options we undertake.”
Furthermore, Al Kharafi added, “We are pleased to have reached this milestone stage in the Zainiac initiative, which gives us a clear indication of the impressive talent and creativity that exists within Zain across our footprint. I would like to thank everyone at Zain for their input into and support of the e-platform as well as for the contribution of ideas, and wholeheartedly congratulate the originators of the three initiatives we are taking forward.”
The first innovative initiative to be picked up for further development comes from Ali Zreik from Zain’s managed operation in Lebanon, touch, and is called Farhetna. It is a concept startup set to help newlyweds and their wedding guests in the collection and payment of money and gifts towards the wedding utilizing the telco’s online and offline channels. Through touch’s self-care application and offline branches, Farhetna will feature capabilities such as the management of wedding-related activities; browsing of different merchant categories (flowers, venues, catering, photography, etc.); as well as the ability to submit gifts and payments online or through physical locations across Lebanon.
The second initiative to be escalated under Zainiac was devised by Abdullah Dashti in Bahrain and is called FindurSeat. It is a bilingual, web-based educational platform aimed at students in the Middle East to help them search and apply for different academic institutions in an efficient manner. FindurSeat also serves as a hub for finding scholarships within the GCC and will act as the focal point for students to engage with tutors for extra curriculum courses.
The third, Abdullah Abu-Karaki and Talal Al Turk from Jordan submitted the idea – ZGiving – an internal initiative aimed at Zainers and accessible via the company’s human resources application, to enable donations towards needy colleagues. Zainers requiring financial support can register on the app and colleagues are able to offer donations in response to the requests for assistance. The plan is for the ZGiving platform being introduced in phases across all operating companies, starting in Jordan.
The introduction of the Zainiac platform is another step forward by Zain aligning to its brand values and Corporate Sustainability and Empowerment objectives, as well as the company’s active investment in delivering on its strategic digital lifestyle aspirations.
Early in May 2018, Zain opened its second Zain Innovation Centre (ZINC) co-working hub in Kuwait following the success of ZINC Jordan. The is the first of its kind in both Kuwait and Jordan provided by a corporate entity, ZINC encourages young minds to think and act creatively outside of the norm in an open, supportive environment with the view to creating the right atmosphere for entrepreneurs to generate new ideas and develop them into viable opportunities.
Through Zainiac and ZINC, Zain provides aspiring entrepreneurs and startups from within and outside of the company all its available resources, including attracting major global pioneers and mentors from across the digital value chain, inclusive of Zain senior management, to assist in the incubation process of startups, bolstering youth entrepreneurship and the region’s startup ecosystem.