UAE-Based Aldar Invites SMEs In F&B And Retail To Apply For The Third Cycle Of Its Startup Incubator Program, Manassah

Winners will receive equity-free financial incentives and a space at an Aldar retail destination.

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UAE-based property developer Aldar Properties has launched the third cycle of its Manassah initiative, a six-month incubator program aimed at fostering entrepreneurial talent and advancing retail concepts in the country.

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Held in partnership with Abu Dhabi-based accelerator startAD, the latest edition focuses on SMEs in the F&B industry, as well as retail products and services. The program is welcoming submissions across retail SMEs such as cafes, restaurants, boutiques, wellness spaces, and other unique store concepts.

Winners will receive equity-free financial incentives and a space at an Aldar retail destination. Participants can also access workshops and resources from startAD and Aldar to launch their ventures, and validate their business models, financials, and brand story. Plus, participants will gain access to a wide network of local and global strategists and retail experts.

The program is also bringing on board partners such as Khalifa Fund and Cloud Spaces, which will also offer financial incentives, workshops, mentorship, network access, as well as introductions.

"Through the Manassah program, we have already mentored, advanced, or initiated projects with over 40 startups and retail concepts and we are now looking to expand this further with the third edition of the program," said Saoud Khoury, Chief Retail Officer, Aldar Investment. "We fully believe that initiatives like Manassah will help build a strong homegrown retail ecosystem, in which startups can thrive."

startAD Managing Director Ramesh Jagannathan noted how the UAE has become a sought-after destination for retail entrepreneurs, as the average household in the country spends double the global amount on shopping and e-commerce. "SMEs have an important role to play here. Today, SMEs represent 94% of the companies operating in the country, provide jobs for more than 86% of the private sector's workforce, and make up over 60% of the national GDP." He continues, "Food retail is anticipated to dominate the retail market in coming years, and programs like Manassah are empowering startups to spur innovation in the sector."

Previous editions of Manassah targeted UAE-based SMEs in the retail, café and restaurant space, as well as a broader range of retail businesses, technology-enabled startups, and sustainability projects across the GCC. Winners of the first edition include Coffee Architecture, Alkalime, and Wake n' Bake, which are now based at Aldar's Mamsha Al Saadiyat. Past alumni also includes DesignHubz, Mr. Draper, and IHearYou, which have secured commercial projects with Aldar.

Applications are now open for the third cycle of Manassah, and the deadline for submissions is August 28.

Related: Sheraa Opens Registrations For New Six-Week Incubator Program For University Students And Fresh Graduates