In a bid to create success stories for aspiring Arab entrepreneurs to emulate, the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition (MITEF), an event promoting entrepreneurship in the Arab world, concluded its ninth edition on April 14, 2016, awarding nine winning ideas across its three tracks, Ideas, Startups and Social Entrepreneurship. 76 teams from 15 Arab countries participated in the contest, with the winning teams picked by a jury comprising of reputed business leaders and Arab entrepreneurship ecosystem partners. The top spot in the event, the first prize in the Startup Track, went to Kuwaiti startup, Ghinwa. The startup bagged US$50,000 for its mobile application that allows users to perform karaoke and promotes protection of Intellectual Property Rights by using licensed songs from copyright owners. Egypt’s Zamen –an app curating news and offering it in the Arabic language- came in second, and Saudi Arabia’s B8ak, an app to book service providers/handymen, was in third place.
Speakers and jury for the competition included HRH Prince Saud bin Khalid Al-Faisal, Deputy Governor of Investment Affairs, SAGIA, HRH Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud, founder and CEO, Alf Khair, Fady Mohammed Jameel, President, Community Jameel International, Scott Gegenheimer, CEO of Zain Group, Wissam Younane, Director of Entrepreneur Middle East, and others. Representatives of leading business houses like Google, Facebook, Oak Investment Partners, 500 Startups and MBC Group also judged the youth talent and shared their insights. MITEF said that it received 5,967 entrepreneur applications for this year’s challenge, a noticeable rise from 4,275 entrepreneurs who applied last year. The organization also claims to have witnessed a record participation of over 16,500 entrepreneurs, up from 12,000 last year. The competition was accompanied by the Time to Invest in Arab Youth and Their Innovations conference, organized by MIT Technology Review Arab Edition. The event made the case for the business world to invest in Arab youth, and also recognized the efforts of five “innovators under 35” in the Arab community. Community Jameel and the Zain Group partnered for the event, which was supported by Economic Cities Authority, King Abdullah Economic City, and Huawei.
MEET THE MITEF WINNERS
- First place Tutorama from Egypt
- Second place Deep OR from Morocco
- Third place Ostor Lab from Morocco
Social Entrepreneurship Track
- First place Hydropneumatic Flushing System from Tunisia
- Second place Pathfinder from Lebanon
- Third place Low Cost PPC from Jordan
Innovators under 35
- Ahmad Alfadhel, King Abdullah University for Science & Technology, Saudi Arabia
- Eve Tamraz, White Labs, Lebanon
- Jean Nehme, Touch Surgery, Lebanon
- Osman Baker, King Abdullah University for Science & Technology, Saudi Arabia
- Yaman Abou Jeib, Glean, Syria