We're In This Together: Business Resources, Offers, And More For MENA Entrepreneurs To Get Through The Coronavirus Pandemic

A guide to help the Entrepreneur Middle East community of entrepreneurs, startups, and SMEs navigate a way out of this coronavirus pandemic.
We're In This Together: Business Resources, Offers, And More For MENA Entrepreneurs To Get Through The Coronavirus Pandemic
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It’s safe to say that it’s been a tough couple of days for all of us in the MENA region, as we grapple with the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic on our respective businesses and livelihoods. Much like any other small business out there, we at Entrepreneur Middle East have also been sorely affected by the economic slowdown caused by this situation, but even as we as an enterprise try to figure out a way to come out of this crisis, we continue to remain committed to supporting the MENA entrepreneurial ecosystem, and thus are eager to help our community of entrepreneurs, startups, and SMEs navigate a way out of this coronavirus pandemic, together with us.

As such, we have been publishing a variety of insights and inspiration for all of us working through this crisis (be notified of our latest posts by following us on Twitter and Instagram), and today, we are kickstarting this particular post where we will collate all of the resources, offers, deals, etc. being offered by various entities within our ecosystem to help businesses big and small to navigate the coronavirus pandemic. This post will be updated on an ongoing basis, and if you (or your business) has an offering that could be added to this post, please email aby@bncpublishing.net and tamara@bncpublishing.net with the subject line “ENTME – Coronavirus.” After all, we’re all in this together- and that’s the ethos we need to get out of this as well.

MENA

MENA | Endeavor Global creates open-source library for entrepreneurs to use

Endeavor has created an open-source library with curated, vetted crisis management resources, including articles, expert advice, and webinar recordings, designed to serve the entrepreneurship community around the world. Link to it here. Besides this, Endeavor's local chapters in the region are hosting webinars and other such resources for the region's entrepreneurial community. Check out Endeavor UAE's efforts here, and Endeavor Jordan's here

MENA | Taskade offers a six-month free upgrade to its real-time and collaboration platform for distributed teams

Taskade is a real-time workspace for remote teams to manage tasks, write notes, and video chat together, on the same page. A Y-Combinator backed startup, Taskade has launched a real-time organization and collaboration platform for distributed teams. This week, it announced it will be offering a six-month free upgrade to its Pro version to support businesses and individuals adopting remote work amidst the COVID-19 situation. If you’re interested in taking the app for a spin, head over to this link.

MENA | Art Jameel Research and Practice Platform to support 50 MENA artists and creatives with allocations of up to $3000

Art Jameel, an independent organization that supports arts, education and heritage in the Middle East and beyond, has launched the Art Jameel Research and Practice Platform, a rapid-response scheme offering artists support through the allocation of micro-fees (up to US$3000) towards their ongoing or new projects. The Platform recognizes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on independent creatives and aims to play a role –alongside other organizations and colleagues in the field– in supporting the sector at this time of great challenges for all.

Artists, writers, curators, and researchers based in the Middle East and North Africa can apply online in three cycles, from April 1, 2020, through June 7, 2020. The Art Jameel Research and Practice Platform aims to support up to 50 practitioners in their development of existing work, as they embark on new projects from home, or adapt their practices and ways of working to the current environment. The scheme invites practitioners to apply via a simple online form; proposals are considered by an independent jury, working to pre-set criteria, and according to three cycles with deadlines of April 10, April 30 and June 7; and the allocations are then distributed to eligible applicants. The first deadline for entries is April 10; more details can be found on this link.

MENA | Tarjama offers free translations for coronavirus updates sent by businesses 

Tarjama is offering businesses free translation to 300 words in up to four languages to update, inform, and guide their audience on the coronavirus pandemic—head here for a quote; see full details on this tweet by Endeavor Jordan.

MENA | ZenHR offers its Geolocation Attendance Module for free to use by companies for 14 days

Cloud-based human resources management system ZenHR is empower the efforts of companies in creating safe workplaces by offering its Geolocation Attendance Module for free for all companies for 14 days after they sign up. With ZenHR’s Geolocation Time Tracking, you can oversee employees’ check in/out as well as all types of leaves using both ZenHR’s mobile app and web platform without the need to use a fingerprint machine. You can also define geographical restrictions to ensure that employees can only check in/out from the correct locations. You can sign up for the service here, and more details can be found in this tweet from Endeavor Jordan

MENA | Anghami offers free audio audio ads for small businesses

As part of its efforts to support the SME community amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the MENA-based music streaming platform is running $850,000 worth of free audio ads for small businesses, which will reach over 13 million people in the region. Interested SMEs can apply here. Besides that, to help offline businesses transition to the digital space easier, the startup is also offering small businesses to launch their own web and mobile storefront with free advertising to promote their entities on Anghami. For more details, head over here.

MENA |  Warehouse421 launches fund to relieve disruption affecting creative production in the MENA region

Warehouse421, a homegrown arts and design center showcasing creative production across the region announced the launch of the Warehouse421 Project Revival Fund to relieve the disruption on creative production impacted by the COVID-19. Visual artists, curators, literary creatives, designers and musicians in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region are welcomed to apply online on the website for monetary packages that can go up to $2,000. To be eligible, applicants must be over 21 years of age and based in the MENASA region, should be affected by the cancellation of ongoing projects, and are not currently receiving financial support for their practice. Applications are open until 30 May 2020.

MENA | AstroLabs commits AED240,000 grant to help tech entrepreneurs launch new startups

Announced in a LinkedIn post by Founding Partner Louis Lebbos, AstroLabs is committing AED240,000 in grants to help former MENA tech startup employees to launch new startups in Dubai and Riyadh. The initiative is in light of how tech companies such as Dubai ride-hailing company Careem has laid off 31% of its workforce to cope with the impact of COVID-19. Lebbos stated that the grants will average at approximately AED20,000 each to apply towards setting up a company and having an office at AstroLabs. They will also receive direct mentorship from the him, as well as Founding Partner Muhammed Mekki, COO Roland Daher, and the rest of AstroLabs' network of mentors. For those interested, head over to this application form on the website, mention the grant, and which startup you left to start your new venture. 

AstroLabs is also offering digital scholarships with Google For Startups for entrepreneurs in UAE and KSA. Individuals can apply for The Digital Upskill Scholarship program, wherein they can be awarded to use any of the AstroLabs in-person or online live training. While startups can apply for The Startup Acceleration Scholarship program, wherein each startup can elect four team members to attend training programs free of charge, receive mentorship hours with the AstroLabs team and its network, receive support to explore expansion to new markets, and support with cloud hosting challenges. To apply, check out the website here.

MENA | Shorooq Partners launches new initiative to support early-stage and aspiring entrepreneurs

Shorooq Partners is welcoming aspiring entrepreneurs to guide them on launching their entrepreneurship vision. In a quick chat with Entrepreneur ME, Founding Manager Shane Shin comments that the project aims to support the next wave of entrepreneurs from the bottom-up, as well as a way for the investment firm to look out for “strong founders with an early-stage business and potential to execute.”

Similar to their approach with their 26 portfolio companies, Shorooq Partners would be actively involved (as much as the founders would want them to be involved), from talent sourcing, strategy, financing journey, expansion to different geographies and regions, just to name a few. Focusing primarily on founders in their early journey, (i.e. idea/concept stage), Shin says they are keen for passionate and disciplined founders: “People who may or may not have the right idea today, but are extremely driven to find it someday. Hence, we ask you to reach out even if you don’t have the clear startup idea mapped out.” Ideally, the firm is looking for founders with a pitch deck/business plan/product overview, so if you have an idea and need guidance, reach out to Shane Shin via email (sshin@shorooq.ae).

MENA | BECO Capital commits US$150,000 to fund "the next generation of MENA entrepreneurs"

From now until the end of 2020, Dubai-based venture capital firm BECO Capital is looking to find and fund the next generation of entrepreneurs that the MENA region has to offer. Under this initiative entitled "Launch With BECO," 10 people (or founding teams) will be selected and given up to $150,000 and support from the BECO network in exchange for 10% equity to turn their ideas into exciting businesses. For more details on criteria and applications for Launch With BECO, check out the official website here

MENA | Warehouse421 Homebound Residency Program Launches For Creatives In The MENASA Region

Abu Dhabi-based arts and design center Warehouse421 has launched its Homebound Residency Program, which aims to support creative practitioners in the MENASA region in producing work and exploring digital forms of community engagement in their practices while socially isolating. The residency program will offer residents a production budget that can go up to AED 30,000 that will go into the equipment and materials for the realization of their projects.

Commenting on the new program, Faisal Al Hassan, Head of Warehouse421, said: “It was Warehouse421’s objective this year to launch a residency program that provides creative practitioners from the UAE and the region the opportunity and support to explore community engagement in their practicesm while in residence at our space in Abu Dhabi. The current circumstances provided us with an opportunity to rethink the existing framework and engage with creatives within their own spaces.”

Residents will have the opportunity to select their mentors, who will guide them throughout the residency process and towards building a new body of work looking out beyond the current pandemic, working towards a digital outcome. Al Hassan also added: “We encourage applicants to think of this moment and the moment right after, of creative delivery during and beyond the pandemic.”

The Warehouse421 Homebound Residency Program is open to all creative practitioners, including but not limited to Visual Arts and Curation, Design and Technology, Literary Arts, Music, Culinary Arts, Theater, and Performance, in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region. Applications will be available online in both Arabic and English starting from 17 June 2020, and the deadline for submission is 18 July 2020--check out the Warehouse421 website then for more details. 

MENA | Shadani Consulting launches The Comms Room to offer free PR and social media resources for SMEs and entrepreneurs 

Leading public relations (PR) and digital marketing firm Shadani Consulting has announced the launch of The Comms Room, a new platform aimed at supporting SMEs and entrepreneurs with free PR and social media resources. With over 90% of businesses in the GCC being cash strapped SMEs, The Comms Room is a platform where SMEs can access a library of do-it-yourself (DIY) resources, professional templates, webinars, and best practice guidelines to learn the fundamentals of communications, develop their PR strategy, engage in effective crisis communications, and much more. A response to the changing needs and concerns of a COVID-19 affected community, The Comms Room offers strategic tools and communication templates to enable individuals and SMEs to enhance their media footprint, break through the media clutter, and re-engage with customers- at no cost. It also extends a complimentary strategy session with Shadani Consulting founder Zaib Shadani, where SMEs can get expert advice and plan for next steps. Additionally, for those that don’t have the time to implement the tactics, subsidized PR and social media "Pay As You Go" packages are also available.

MENA | Protranslate partners with HotelRunner to provide small to mid-size hotels with free localization and digital marketing consultancy

The MENA region’s leading translation services platform Protranslate and hotel sales and channel management platform HotelRunner have started a partnership to support the localization efforts of 40,000+ hotels utilizing the HotelRunner platform to help them get through the pandemic.

Tourism has been one of the most affected sectors during the pandemic, and with Turkey and the UAE being hot tourism destinations for many Arabic, European, and Russian tourists, the sector has suffered in a major way worldwide. With a late start to the season, hotels have finalized their health certification process' and trying to expedite their booking by steering their localization and marketing efforts to countries where the number of COVID-19 cases is shrinking and border opening procedures are being finalized. 

As such, Protranslate is supporting small to mid-size hotels with free localization and digital marketing consultancy to ramp up the bookings during the delayed tourism season affecting MENA region. To know more, head to this website and engage with the live chat or phone numbers listed there.  

UAE

UAE | Six Dubai Banks announce business relief packages for customers

Six Dubai banks (Emirates NBD, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates Islamic, Mashreq and Commercial Bank of Dubai) have joined the effort to provide relief to their customers during the coronavirus outbreak crisis. Those measures include various support packages to individual customers, small business customers, trading clients, individual customers and cardholders, customers with existing and new finance facilities, business banking customers, and many more. To learn more about any of the listed measures, please visit the nearest branch of your bank or its digital banking platform. (More details on WAM.)

UAE | Three Abu Dhabi Banks announce 17 initiatives for individuals and SMEs impacted by the coronavirus pandemic

Three Abu Dhabi banks, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, in coordination with the Abu Dhabi Department of Finance and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development have introduced 17 initiatives to support both individuals and small and medium enterprises that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The range of measures, which include reductions on banking fees and charges and a reduction in a minimum average balance, can be seen in full through this tweet sent by the Abu Dhabi Department of Finance.

UAE | Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) introduces a series of fiscal easing initiatives for its clients starting April 1

In response to the unprecedented situation caused by COVID-19, and in alignment with Dubai Government’s economic stimulus programme, DIFC is introducing a series of fiscal easing initiatives in the form of discounts, waiver,s and extensions over the next three months to help protect the financial services industry and all businesses operating in the Centre. The initiatives will provide DIFC's clients with much needed relief through the following five packages effective 1st of April: 

  1. A waiver of licensing fees on new application for Incorporation and registration during the next three months.
  2. 10% discount of renewal fees for existing license holders in the DIFC for entities due to renew their licenses between 1 April and 30 June 2020.
  3. Deferred payments on leases for all properties owned by DIFC Investments Ltd for a period up to six months from 1 April 2020.
  4. A reduction on property transfer fees in the DIFC from 5% to 4% will also be applied to any sale or purchase of property (or any part thereof) that takes place within the three-month period. The transfer must be registered with the DIFC Registrar of Real Properties within 30 days following the expiry of the three-month period between 1 April and 30 June 2020.
  5. Free movement of labour in and out of the Centre between other free zones, provided employers have the necessary contracts and arrangements in place.

UAE | Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Launches Support Measures for Registered Businesses to Counter the Impact of COVID-19

In keeping with Abu Dhabi’s robust economic stimulus package to support the economic activity and facilitate business in the Emirate, ADGM, the international financial centre in Abu Dhabi, has launched a set of financial and support measures to mitigate the adverse impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on registered entities operating in its financial free zone on Al Maryah Island. The ADGM support measures, which go over a period of 12 months, include:

  • 100% waiver on Commercial Licence renewal fees (with exception of SPVs and foundations licences) until 25 March 2021
  • 100% waiver on Business Activity renewal fees until 25 March 2021
  • 100% waiver on Data Protection renewal fees until 25 March 2021
  • 100% waiver on new Temporary Work Permits issuance, renewal and late application fees until 25 March 2021
  • 100% waiver on annual Funds fees until 31 December 2020
  • 100% refund of annual Funds fees already paid by FSRA regulated entities for 2020
  • 50% refund of Supervision fees already paid by FSRA regulated entities for 2020
  • 50% waiver on any new FSRA Supervision fees to be collected until 31 December 2020
  • Deferment of rental payments and service charges for office tenants at ADGM Square on Al Maryah Island for 2020

More details on ADGM's support measures can be found here

UAE I ADGM Courts to offer legal assistance at no cost to qualified individuals with limited financial means
ADGM Courts, a part of the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), an international financial center launched in 2015 to support Abu Dhabi’s growing role as a financial and commercial hub, has launched the ADGM Courts Pro Bono Scheme.

Under the scheme, lawyers will volunteer their time and expertise to provide pro bono legal advice and assist individuals with limited financial means in regard to civil and commercial disputes or other legal issues that fall within the jurisdiction of ADGM Courts. Law firms, lawyers and law students are encouraged to register as volunteers with the Scheme. The register of volunteers is updated regularly by the Scheme to ensure quality and capacity in the delivery of pro bono services. 

Both interested law professionals and individuals seeking pro bono assistance should refer to the ADGM Courts website (HERE) for more information.

UAE | Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority launches incentives, exemption packages for business partners, residents

Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA), the regulatory body for Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO), today announced exemptions, incentives, and flexible payment plans for companies, commercial tenants, and residents occupying buildings owned by the Authority.

As part of the package of incentives, DSOA is offering rent waivers to the retail sector affected by the closure including restaurants, shops, and gyms at Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority owned buildings, commencing from March 15, 2020 and ending once the government allows retail outlets to reopen. In addition, they are exempt from late payment fines until August 31. Likewise, multiple business partners and tenants are to also benefit from a waiver on all late payment fines until August 31.

The retail sector at DSO will also receive discounts of up to 10% of the rental value upon renewal, and an additional 5% discount on the annual rent, if paid on time and in one instalment. Marketing fees, likewise, are to be reduced by 25%, and deferred for up to three months. Retail business owners can also choose to pay outstanding fees in installments, and leverage their visa security deposits to pay off their financial dues to DSOA.

DSOA has also approved a package of incentive measures for startups based at Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec), the largest tech hub and coworking space in the MENA region, wholly owned by DSOA, including a waiver of all late payment and overstay fines until August 31, 2020. Dtec is providing entrepreneurs the opportunity to benefit from deferred rent payments for up to three months, and a 5% discount on their annual rent, if paid on time and in one deposit. In addition, on renewal of their tenancy contracts, flexi desk and fixed desk tenants can enjoy the option of paying their rents in up to six installments, in addition to leveraging their visa security deposits to pay off their financial dues to DSOA.

DSOA has also approved a flexible payment scheme for companies operating from its buildings. Companies can postpone rent payments for the next three months, commencing April 2020. Service charges are also being waived from March 15 until further notice, and payments can be spread, based on discussions with DSOA’s Finance Department, over a period of six months following the expiry of the postponement date. DSOA is waiving cheque retrieval fees and pardoning first offenders’ bounced check fees, thereby facilitating easy monthly payments in accordance with its terms and conditions. In addition, DSOA is issuing a waiver on all late payment fees until August 31, 2020, and granting a 5% discount on the annual rent, if paid on time and in one deposit. The Authority is further enabling customers to use their visa security deposits to pay off their rental financial dues.

New companies establishing their offices in DSO for the first time can also benefit from a set of incentives. During the exemption period, DSOA is offering new companies a grace period on monthly rent payments until end of May 2020, and a discount of up to 10% on the monthly rent. Furthermore, the Authority is waiving the service charge until the government allows companies to continue working from their offices.

Existing residential tenants at Dubai Silicon Oasis now have the option of paying their rents monthly and a new rental structure has also been activated. DSOA is to defer all new and existing lease payments for up to two months and provide flexible payment plans for the remainder of the lease duration. The Authority is to waive cheque retrieval fees on bounced checks for first offenders. Residential villa tenants can benefit from a discount of AED5,000, while other residential tenants receive a discount of AED2,000, if they pay the annual rent as one deposit.

UAE | Ajman Free Zone unveils new incentives for companies 

H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Chairman of Ajman Free Zone (AFZ), issued a decision to introduce a package of economic incentives for AFZ, China Mall, and its affiliates. The aim is to alleviate the economic effects the world is experiencing today and its implications for business.

The list of incentives is as follows:

Fines

  • Licenses renewed are exempt from licensing fees and late renewal fines
  • In the case of license cancellation, company will receive a 50% discount on accumulated fines

Fees

  • Cheque services fees waived for 3 months
  • An easy instalment payment plan
  • Labour accommodation rent fee reduced by 25%

Smart services subscription warranty

  • For new companies, AFZ will cover the cost of their E-Channel Warranty (AED5,000)

UAE | startAD launches Runway Grants as part of its #LengthenTheRunway initiative

As part of its #LengthenTheRunway initiative, startAD, the global accelerator steering seed-stage technology startups to launch, develop, and scale their ventures anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi and powered by Tamkeen, an Abu Dhabi government owned company, is launching Runway Grants of $30,000 for its startup alumni in the UAE, in association with VentureSouq and Scalable CFO.

Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis, and grant awardees would benefit from zero-equity grants of up to $7500 if you are exceptionally impacted by COVID-19, financial consultation deep-dive on your venture from Scalable CFO at no cost, in addition to three months of platform resources and support worth $2000, and the opportunity to receive investor feedback on your business.   

To qualify, the startups must be an alumnus of a startAD program operating a business in the UAE. Ventures will be evaluated on financial hardship (demonstration of significant financial difficulty that will severely and negatively impact the runway of the startup), commitment (a strong sense of commitment to the survival of the startup, and additionally, committed to providing mentorship/support to early stage entrepreneurs in the startAD community) and impact (communicate effectively what the impact of receiving the grant will be, to what scale and for how long).

Having launched on April 2, 2020, the key dates for the initiative are:

  • Investment Panel 1 – April 14, 2020
  • Investment Panel 2 – April 22, 2020
  • Investment Panel 3 – May 6, 2020
  • Application Deadline – May 11, 2020
  • Investment Panel 4 – May 12, 2020

UAE | The Ambassador offers free benefits and advertising to UAE SMEs

In an attempt to help UAE businesses cope with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the Ambassador, an employee experience application, has opened its free MyBenefits platform in order to help teams save money through discounts and perks, such as 15% off on food deliveries with CareemNOW, AED 30 off home disinfection with JustMop, one free wash and fold bag with Washmen, and many more. (To setup a free MyBenefits page by visiting https://join.theambassador.ae/working-from-home. To set up a free MyCommunity advertising listing, go to https://join.theambassador.ae/mycommunity)

UAE | Virtuzone reduces fees for UAE-based entrepreneurs

Virtuzone, a company formation specialist, has reduced its fees to AED19,995 plus VAT for a trade licence and a three-year residence visa to ease the burden on entrepreneurs and businesses who have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. For families wishing to stay in the UAE, Virtuzone offers an all-inclusive cost of only AED4,995 plus VAT for each additional dependent visa. (For more information, call 800 8923 or visit www.vz.ae.)

UAE | Zbooni offers free processing on sales up to AED5,000 to help businesses secure payments 

Zbooni, a connected chat commerce app for UAE merchants, has announced that from March 26 to April 16, 2020, existing and new customers in the UAE will not pay a fee in conducting business payments or invoicing via Zbooni, on sales up to AED 5,000. Amounts above this will be charged at Zbooni’s standard 3.5% flat rate processing fee per transaction. (More information can be found at Zbooni.com.)

UAE | Online coaching company Bessern offers free sessions with its community of coaches

There has never been a better time to rethink the human in each of us. As organizations are forced to reinvent the way they operate and the way their teams drive the business, all stakeholders involved might be experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety. Managing these emotions in the current global pandemic can be very difficult. If that is not enough, managing mindsets in the times when people’s jobs could be at stake post COVID-19 can drive individuals even further to feelings of stress and anxiety.

Bessern, a Dubai-based company providing online coaching and development for human and enterprise transformation, is offering free mental support for the remote worker coping with the uncertainty of our times– our community of coaches will provide free text-based coaching in our recently opened community portal; this will be done everyday for the next 20 days (starting from March 30) between 20:00 and 22:00 pm [UAE time]. Join the portal in this link.

UAE | Sheraa offers free learning resources for startups

The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) has launched a series of initiatives for its community of founders and all UAE-based entrepreneurs, including free webinars, a #SmallBizUAE Slack channel for entrepreneurs and ecosystem stakeholders across the UAE, a free access to curated resources on managing your startup through the crisis. For its portfolio startups, Sheraa will be providing dedicated office hours, introductions to potential partners and customers, as well as promotion on our social media channels.

UAE | DeliverDXB.com offers direct ordering from restaurants to support local F&B community

UAE-based restaurant blog Food Sheikh and commission-free ordering platform ChatFood have partnered up to launch DeliverDXB, a platform listing local restaurants offering direct ordering for restaurant take away and delivery during the ongoing pandemic. The platform ensures customers can order directly from restaurants, eliminating fees and contracts to delivery aggregators, and thus, giving more profit to F&B establishments. (For more information, visit www.deliverdxb.com.)

UAE | Bayzat offers its HR platform for free to help companies navigate remote working more smoothly

Abu Dhabi-headquartered Bayzat, a technology company providing HR, payroll, and insurance solutions, is offering its platform for free to companies wanting to navigate their remote working set-ups more smoothly. The platform can help companies with adjusting their processes in a more efficient way when it comes to setting up and calculating work-from-home leave policies, keeping track of number of days employees are working from home, activating out-of-office employee attendance, managing employee records seamlessly, and other such efforts. The platform comes at no cost if the companies choose to renew their health insurance through Bayzat, and even if they do not, it will remain free until the time of the renewal. You can sign up for a demo to see the platform here.

UAE | The Co- Dubai offers free emergency mentoring sessions

The Co- Dubai, a co-working space and one of the first small business accelerators to be certified by Dubai SME, is offering free 30-minute emergency mentoring sessions for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and freelancers looking for help on managing and surviving this difficult time.  Their mentor will be able to discuss your existing business, or if you are looking to launch a new venture in the current context. 30-minute slots are available via phone or Skype dependent on location. For more information or to book your slot visit: Covid.theco.me

The Co- Dubai has also launched a course for entrepreneurs, small business owners, solopreneurs, and freelancers looking to gain an in-depth understanding of digital marketing, allowing them to increase web traffic, leads and ultimately sales for their business.  The course is priced at AED199 and is available via Learn.theco.me.

UAE | Afridi & Angell Legal Consultants offer free COVID-19 advice hotline

Until the end of March, Afridi & Angell will offer free advice on legal issues affecting companies and employers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This may be advice related to contractual obligations and force majeure, labour and employment, managing litigation, among others. Not every matter may be suitable for this offer, for example specific enquiries which require documents to be reviewed, enquiries on legal issues unrelated to the pandemic, or matters that cannot be addressed over a 20-minute phone call. Send in your questions with your contact details to Shahram Safai (Partner at Afridi & Angell's Dubai Office) on ssafai@afridi-angell.com, and he will contact you. Please make sure you include the names of any counterparties involved, as the firm must clear any conflicts before it can assist you.

UAE | Yovza offers a free platform for managing construction projects from home

Yovza, a UAE-based construction technology startup, is offering its Yovza advanced account, an integrated solution that connects businesses within the construction industry, to engineering consultants for one year with no charge. Construction contractors can avail a 50% discount when subscribing to a one-year package. The Yovza advanced account enables taking control of construction projects remotely with minimal human interaction. For more information, please visit the Yovza website

UAE | Maslaha Professional Gigs is offering 10% off its personalized packages till the end of April

Maslaha Professional Gigs is providing 10% off its personalized packages in branding, social media management, photography, copywriting, etc. till the end of April in support of small businesses. All prices are inclusive, with no hidden costs or fees- you can find more details about the packages being offered by this free platform in this link.

UAE | Axeed Labs Launches AED1 Million Credit Line For Tech Startups And SMEs

Mobile application and software development firm Axeed Labs has launched an AED1 million credit to support UAE startups and SMEs continue their tech development. To be eligible, applicants should have a B2B or B2C tech product which requires imminent development or maintenance, and have been in business for at least six months. All applicants can apply for credit lines of up to AED1 million with flexible payment plans. Axeed Labs is also opening its doors to investment opportunities to tech startups. SMEs can apply for the AED1 million credit line online on the website here and will be contacted to go through the next stage of the process.

UAE |  Virtuzone launches Stand Together, a free online marketplace to support the UAE’s SMEs

As a CSR initiative during these difficult times, Virtuzone has launched standtogether.ae a listings site to support the UAE’s SME community. Built with the pro-bono support of Dentsu Aegis brands Isobar and Merkle, the marketplace platform is designed to allow local businesses to offer unique, time sensitive deals, as well as providing information to business owners on how to navigate their companies through the current crisis.

Stand Together UAE seeks to help any UAE-based businesses raise immediate revenue, maintain its orderbook and thus keep supporting its workforce. Long-term, it will provide free leads, and through collective data mining, leverage synergies within the SME community. The free marketplace will provide unique offers to the consumer from a range of businesses from accounting and apparel, to construction, entertainment, legal advice, website development and digital demand generation. To register their offers free of charge, SMEs need only provide a valid UAE trade license number. 

UAE | ADGM announces further incentives to support businesses

The Abu Dhabi Global Market Registration Authority (ADGM RA) has announced the enactment of several incentives for new businesses, aimed at supporting the establishment of their operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic and reinforcing the holistic offerings of ADGM’s ecosystem. These incentives will commence on 3 May 2020 and are an extension of ADGM’s larger suite of support measures recently announced to mitigate the adverse impact of COVID-19 on businesses in the financial free zone located in Al Maryah Island. 

The new incentives include a 50% reduction on fees associated with the incorporation of new ADGM companies and limited liability partnerships (including branches). The incentives will be applicable until 31 December 2020 to ADGM’s new applicants for financial, non-financial, and retail license types, excluding Special Purpose Vehicles, ADGM Foundations, Venture Capital firms, Tech Start Up applicants (seed and emergent), Accelerators and Incubators and Professional Associations. In addition, companies wishing to continue into ADGM from a foreign jurisdiction will receive a reduction of 100 percent on the continuation fee.

Lastly, existing ADGM companies and limited liability partnerships are now able to request an extension on the nine month timeline for filing of annual accounts by demonstrating to the Registrar the circumstances hindering their ability to comply with such obligation. An extension of up to three months may be granted. For further details on the new incentives, visit the ADGM website here.

UAE | Michael Page Middle East launches initiatives for HR managers and job seekers

Recruitment firm Michael Page Middle East is launching a series of initiatives to help HR managers and job seekers navigate through the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. For HR managers and business leaders, the firm launched a free-to-download ebook Running your recruitment processes remotely: A complete guide, which is a guide to running an effective recruitment process process, including topics on attracting the right talent, assessing CVs and coer letters, utilizing video tech for interviewing, making a strong offer to secure top talent, and adapting your onboarding to a remote process. The firm will also be hosting a webinar on remote hiring on May 6, Wednesday at 2pm GST to share business practices on the processes highlighted in the ebook. Job seekers can save the date for May 14, Thursday, at 2pm GST as the firm will a host a webinar titled  ‘Building a Resilient Approach to Job Searching during COVID-19’, focusing on how to best structure your efforts for your job search. Recruiters will discuss in-demand sectors and skills, standing out to recruiters, virtual networking tips and preparing for a video interview. 

UAE | Elevation extends its “Support Your Local Community” campaign by selecting local SMEs for a DOOH programmatic campaign

After having launched the “Support Your Local Community” initiative in April that helped more than 80 Dubai- and Abu Dhabi-based SMEs use a US$1,000,000 advertising fund to promote their businesses across the UAE, Elevision Media is now extending the campaign to a second phase with its programmatic partners, TPS Engage and Broadsign Reach. 

In this new phase, Elevision will offer a select number of businesses the opportunity to plan, book and execute a campaign using industry leading programmatic technology. By using programmatic, these clients will be able to independently activate and manage their campaigns, hyper targeting their audiences, while deploying tactical campaign triggers, ensuring maximum impact and efficiency in their targeting objectives. 

Elevision operates over 1200 digital-out-of-home (DOOH) advertising screens in commercial and residential communities across the UAE that are powered by Broadsign’s CMS and player software. Elevision’s recent adoption of the Broadsign Reach programmatic supply side platform has allowed it to be the first OOH media supplier in the Middle East to successfully launch DOOH programmatic campaigns. Now with its most recent tie up with TPS Engage, a context-driven programmatic demand side platform, advertisers in the Middle East and abroad will have unfettered access to book and launch DOOH programmatic campaigns across Elevision’s network. 

Elevision’s programmatic platform will allow advertisers to target viewers across some of Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s most iconic commercial districts and premium residential communities such as Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Dubai Marina, The Palm, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT), Business Bay, City of Lights and more.

For more information on the new initiaitive, interested parties can contact the Elevision Media team on sales@elevision.ae.

UAE I Dubai South Free Zone's Incentives For Businesses Affected By COVID-19

Dubai South Free Zone will offer individuals and companies in its free zone flexible payment plans with easy instalment schemes as well as waivers of penalties on late renewals and cancellations of contracts and licenses. Customers will also benefit from a 20% reduction on licence fees renewals, while first year license fees for new customers in the aviation, logistics and e-commerce sectors and the Business Park will be waived. In addition, customers who operate in the Business Park Free Zone will have the opportunity to apply for a lease deferral request of up to six months, which will be granted on a case-by-case basis. Meanwhile, Dubai South Business Centre customers renewing their contracts between now and October 2020 will receive a reduction of up to 25% on their renewal fees as well as the flexibility to settle annual rental fees in up to four installments. Furthermore, individuals and companies looking to establish a new business will be granted rental fee reductions of up to 25%. For more information contact the Dubai South team here

UAE | Atteline offers public relations pro-bono consultation for UAE SMEs

UAE PR agency Atteline will be offering pro-bono consultation and strategic planning sessions for homegrown businesses and other B2C brands with a regional presence. Kicking off from 1st May till 30th June, Atteline will offer regionally-based companies two hour PR consultancy sessions with the agency's founder and Manging Director, Sophie Simpson, to help guide PR and communication campaigns and strategies to drive business and brand-building through a three-phased approach: react, respond, renew. For more information, visit the website, or contact the Atteline team at hello[at]atteline[.]com.

UAE | KIZAD launches business packages with up to 36% savings to boost SMEs

Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Ports, announced new packages with up to 36% savings as relief for freezone businesses. The relief package offers both existing and prospective KIZAD Frezon customers savings of up to 25% on new registrations and renewals, as well as a waiver on the security deposit and two months free on renewals for all packages registered before June 30, 2020. 

UAE | CE-Ventures launches equity-free grants with ticket sizes of up to US$50,000 to support Sheraa's existing portfolio startups

Following the announcement of the US$1 million startup solidarity fund by Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa), CE-Ventures, the venture capital platform of diversified global business Crescent Enterprises, has said it will also be contributing to supporting the UAE startup community through the provision of equity-free grants to Sheraa’s existing portfolio startups. With ticket sizes set to be up to $50,000, the application process for the equity-free grant pool is set to open in the last two weeks of May 2020, after which startups will be shortlisted by a committee consisting of members from CE-Ventures, Sheraa, and an independent venture capital firm. A set list of criteria has been drawn and will focus on various areas including product concept and roadmap, market opportunity, conversion funnel, and financial plan. This initiative by CE-Ventures has been created in response to the recently launched #UbuntuLoveChallenge, a global initiative spearheaded by H.E. Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sheraa, and Mamadou Kwidjim Toure, founder of the Africa 2.0 Foundation.

UAE | Dubai SME allocates AED20 million for capital guarantee scheme launched by The Mohammed Bin Rashid Fund in partnership with Beehive  

Dubai SME, the agency of Dubai Economy mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, has allocated AED20 million for the capital guarantee scheme launched by its financial arm, The Mohammed Bin Rashid Fund (The Fund), in partnership with Beehive, the first regulated peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region. The guarantee pool will enable more SMEs and investors to leverage financial technology to support business continuity and growth while also stimulating economic growth.

The Fund and Beehive recently renewed and updated their existing partnership by broadening the channels of eligibility for SMEs to access financing, and for investors to reap attractive returns by participating in entrepreneurial startups. The original agreement had enabled Dubai-based SMEs that are 100% owned and managed by an Emirati to request financing of up to AED780,000, backed by a full capital guarantee extended by The Fund from a total guarantee pool of AED20 million. In a significant update to the agreement, Dubai-based SMEs that are 50% or more owned and managed by an Emirati are now also eligible for financing of up to AED420,000, which will be backed by a 50% capital guarantee. This update allows businesses eligible for new financing to get a three-months payment holiday at the beginning of their loan term, which will be followed by a 24-months payment schedule. The loan guarantee scheme will allow eligible SMEs to access funding at lower rates and give protection to investors that support these businesses. This is expected to be critical for Dubai’s SMEs that are currently facing a cash crunch and will allow them to continue their operations and paying their bills. The total guarantee pool of AED20 million will ensure this financial tool can be utilized by many eligible SMEs. For more details, please contact Beehive on team@beehive.ae

UAE | Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) To Support National Companies With AED1 Billion 
Lasting for the duration of 2020, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD)'s AED1 billion initiative will provide concessionary loans for national companies operating in sectors crucial to the UAE economy, such as healthcare, food security and manufacturing. For more information, please visit the ADFD website.

UAE | Spinneys launches incubator for micro F&B suppliers in UAE

Locally-owned supermarket Spinneys has launched an incubator program for micro food and beverage suppliers in the UAE. As part of its corporate sustainability initiative Let’s Do Better Together, the initiative aims to fast-track supermarket listings for innovative F&B businesses in a bid to support local food production and stimulate economic growth in the sector. Launched amidst the economic challenges caused by COVID-19, the program aims to boost and reward innovation amongst smaller food producers and manufacturers in the emirates by lowering barriers to supermarket entry and helping to accelerate an often challenging path to shelf listing.

Suppliers interested in participating will have to submit a short presentation via the Spinneys website detailing the product or concept, the business plan, and the people behind the business. The incubator panel, represented by senior Spinneys executives, will review and shortlist potential businesses and invite those accepted to pitch virtually and answer questions in a “Dragon’s Den” style format. Nominations must be submitted by 30th June 2020. Successfully selected businesses will then be listed in Spinneys stores for 12 months, during which time they will gain valuable commercial and marketing expertise to help scale their businesses. After 12 months, those brands will be given the opportunity to continue retailing with Spinneys, subject to achieving certain financial metrics, and can choose to retail through other distributors.More information on the programme can be found by clicking here.

UAE | Emirates Publishers Association President H.E. Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi launches AED1 million Emergency Fund to empower UAE publishers impacted by COVID-19

H.E. Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, founder and President of the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA), has announced the launch of the Emirates Publishers Emergency Fund worth AED1 million to support a host of publishers in the UAE whose businesses have been severely impacted by the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The objectives set out by the Fund will be achieved by EPA in partnership with the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) and Sharjah Publishing City (SPC). EPA will be entrusted with the task of coordinating and communicating with Emirati bookmakers, and will also guide them on ways to avail of the provisions included in the fund. The fund aims to reach affected publishers operating within the country, and by identifying the complex challenges the industry is grappling with, it will further boost efforts to ensure the continuity of their businesses.

All guidelines and conditions relating to provisions of the fund and how to avail of it will be announced later; stay tuned to EPA's social media channels for more information. 

UAE | Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development launches National Creative Relief Program for creative freelancers and companies

To ensure the continuity and development of cultural production in the UAE, the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development is welcoming applications to obtain financial grants from its National Creative Relief Program. Open to licensed creative freelancers and small enterprises consisting of 1-20 employees currently in UAE who are working in the creative and cultural industries sector, applicants can apply from July 1-14 to receive the grant.

It is also open to creatives who did not receive the fund in the first phase of program. Prospective applicants would need to apply with documents such as, a resume and/or portfolio, trade license, personal identification (Emirates ID, passport and resident visa), an approved bank account statement, copies of contracts, agreements or job requests that were cancelled from March-May 2020, evidence of top three financial obligations for June-July 2020, and top three agreements or business contracts in 2019.

To apply, find out more information on its website: https://www.mckd.gov.ae/en/covid-19/financial-support/

EGYPT

EGYPT | The Cairo Angels seeks solutions for “We’ve got your back” initiative with EGP100,000

Angel investment network The Cairo Angels is supporting the #احنا_في_ضهرك (“We’ve got your back”) initiative with EGP100,000, which aims at helping elderly or vulnerable people living alone complete their shopping and errands. The network is seeking to establish a secure and updated database for volunteers, whose identity can be verified through social media accounts and ID cards, with the inclusion of reviews. Hence, existing startups and/or startup founders are needed to develop the product and launch it within one week. Applications are accepted until March 25th, 2020. 

EGYPT | Taskty offers sanitization services for companies, factories

Home improvement website Taskty built teams to offer sanitization services for companies and factories alike at cheap prices, following the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Egyptian Ministry of Health. Additionally, Taskty is conducting phone training with the cleaners, technicians and workers that are registered on their website on how to best keep themselves and their customers safe.

EGYPT | WideBot builds free Arabic-speaking chatbots for businesses

Arabic chatbot company WideBot is offering three months of bot building for free on their platform, so that businesses can completely shift their communication with other brands, employees and customers online. Using the Promocode “BeSafe” allows interested businesses and startups to set up their chatbots, and thus, reduce face-to-face interactions. Widebot is the first Arabic-focused bot-builder platform, which does not require coding and uses AI to maximize conversions and increase loyalty.

EGYPT | TakeStep offers free sessions, launches COVID-19 symptom-checker with Al-Tibbi

Egyptian healthcare startup TakeStep now offers startups and their families free psychiatric sessions in order to help them cope with the psychological impact of the COVID-19 spread worldwide. Psychologists are coining the term “corona phobia” to describe how people are affected by the panic and fear that comes along with the virus-spread. This could include anxiety, depression, as well as severe fear of germs. Additionally, TakeStep partnered with Al-Tibbi to launch a free symptom-checker for the coronavirus, in which website visitors can enter the symptoms they feel, and be diagnosed either positive or negative for COVID-19.

EGYPT | Brainy Squad launches free online consultations for businesses

Creative agency Brainy Squad launched free online consultation sessions to support businesses facing economic consequences of the spread of COVID-19. These sessions provide expertise to help businesses adopt the best digital transformation tactics to ensure continuity and growth under the current conditions. Brainy Squad is a creative one-stop-shop for businesses’ digital and creative needs.

EGYPT | Breadfast waives delivery fees, adds more products for customers’ convenience

Online native grocery application Breadfast added more commodities to its offering at their customers’ convenience, in support of the ''stay at home'' safety measures. These products include fruits, vegetables, groceries, hand sanitizers and face masks. Additionally, the company applied special safety standards at all stages of production, packaging, and delivery, while customers can leave a note to have their order left at the door. Breadfast also waived all delivery fees until the end of the month in support of customers’ circumstances during the current times. Breadfast is an online grocery application that produces fresh bakeries using products like eggs and flour also produced by Breadfast, in addition to providing other groceries delivered daily to their customers’ doorstep.

EGYPT | Forasna allows companies to announce vacant job opportunities for free

Recruitment platform Forasna is offering a new filter for work-from-home jobs, enabling job seekers to look for work opportunities while working safely from home. The feature encourages companies with similar opportunities to announce them on the platform for free. Forasna is also collaborating with e-learning platform Almentor.net to learn new skills from home through online courses with a 100% discount (promocode: "Forasna-19").

EGYPT | eddyPay lowers payment transaction fees to 2%

To support businesses navigate the current circumstances as well as encourage contactless and cashless payments, fintech startup eddyPay announced that it would reduce the transaction fee on any payment via the mobile application to 2%, down from the usual 2.5%. 

Bahrain

BAHRAIN | Al Waha Fund of Funds hosts webinar sessions and virtual office hours

Al Waha Fund of Funds, in collaboration with its partners, is hosting a series of webinar sessions and virtual office hours for entrepreneurs and startups. For more information, check out the website or register by contacting dsater@bdb-bh.com.

BAHRAIN | Edtech startup Lumofy offers its suite of e-learning focused solutions free for two months

Bahrain-based startup Lumofy is providing its suite of e-learning focused solutions to accelerate digital transformation and success for corporates and institutions in Bahrain for a two-month-long period. With this offering, Lumofy aims to streamline the process for corporations and their employees amidst the challenging times we have today with its provision of an employee needs analysis to both increase awareness as well as to identify and minimize gaps during these times. The offering can be accessed by clicking here

Kuwait

Kuwait | Kuwait's Central Bank Announces Stimulus Package To Support SMEs

Central Bank of Kuwait has announced a stimulus package to support essential sectors and SMEs admidst the coronavirus pandemic. To support SMEs, the credit risk weighting for SMEs has been reduced from 75% to 25% to calculate the capital adequacy radio, enabling more banks to provide more financing to this sector. For more information, visit the website here.

Oman

Oman | New Online Marketplace To Support SMEs And Sell Their Products Online

The Public Authority for SME Development (Riyada) and Zad Oman have collaborated to launch a new platform called Zaad to help SMEs in Oman sell their products online. 

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