The Recap: Enterprise Agility Forum 2019
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More than 250 people came together for Entrepreneur Middle East’s 2019 Enterprise Agility Forum, presented by du, which was held at The Sofitel Palm Dubai, UAE on April 30, 2019.
In its fifth edition, the event, staged under Entrepreneur Middle East's Industry Intel banner, had speakers from across the Middle East region to share insights and expertise on the MENA's entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Presented by du, Entrepreneur Middle East’s 2019 Enterprise Agility Forum was staged with the support of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Dubai Startup Hub; Gold Ally, Okadoc; Banking Partner, Dubai Islamic Bank; Ecosystem Partners, Dtec and FundedByMe MENA; Tech Allies, Sage Middle East, and Life On Screen.
This year, the event also played host to the final round of the Dubai Smartpreneur Competition 4.0, staged by Dubai Startup Hub, the entrepreneurship support arm of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 10 finalists were chosen from the over 250 business ideas that were submitted in this instalment of the contest, with the shortlisted entrepreneurs then presenting their enterprises to a panel of judges at the Enterprise Agility Forum.
Following the pitches, the judges, which included serial entrepreneur Mohammad Chbib, Hub71 Head Mahmoud Adi, and du’s Executive Vice President – Enterprise Business, Hany Fahmy Aly, selected three winners to walk away with a total of AED160,000 in prizes. Denarii Cash, a mobile application helping overseas workers to send money claimed the first place; Arabee, a high specification platform providing an online multi-format Arabic language programme came in second; while Xpence, a digital-only intelligent business bank account designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs placed third.
Kicking off the event with his opening remarks, Editor in Chief Aby Sam Thomas addressed the current shift in the MENA entrepreneurial ecosystem, noting that Entrepreneur Middle East remains true to its goal of supporting entrepreneurs and startups in the region: “We remain committed to telling your stories, and we hope to do it even more in the years to come.”
With Thomas and KBW Investments Chief Communications Officer Fida Chaaban co-moderating the event, the 2019 Enterprise Agility Forum began with a welcome note by Hany Fahmy Aly, Executive Vice President – Enterprise Business, du, who reiterated his enterprise’s support to the startup ecosystem, and encouraged entrepreneurs to move ahead with their dreams. “Make innovation your priority,” Aly said. “Don’t be afraid to explore and fail.”
The keynote address for the event was delivered by Careem co-founder and CXO Magnus Olsson. Fresh from being acquired by Uber in March 2019 for US$3.1 billion, Olsson shares the significance of starting a venture rooted on social impact. Talking about the enterprise’s early beginnings, Olsson advised the audience, “Aim high! There is no limit to the potential of talent in the region. Don’t be afraid to start small. Learn, and be scrappy. The region is the most exciting place to do it.”
The first Talking Series session of the conference was a panel discussion on the topic, The Next Frontier: The Changing Face of Entrepreneurship in the Arab World, which was headlined by Elie Habib, co-founder and CTO of Anghami; Mohammed Jaffar, Deputy Chairman and CEO of Faith Capital and CEO of JustClean; and Magnus Olsson, co-founder and CXO Magnus Olsson of Careem. It featured a discussion on what can be done to enable more success stories to come out of the MENA region, with insights on what can entrepreneurs and stakeholders can do to better support the ecosystem’s innovators.
The second of the Talking Series titled Turning The Tide: Growth Hacks For When Business Is Bad, looked into the techniques and tactics that entrepreneurs can do when the business market is stifling their startups’ growth. Featuring Jamal Wick, co-founder of Flip International, Fodhil Benturquia, founder and CEO of Okadoc, Pallavi Dean, founder and Creative Director of Roar, and Mansoor Sarwar, Director - Technical Services & Pre-Sales, Sage Middle East, the panelists discussed strategies for first-time entrepreneurs, operating costs, product diversification and cost-cutting techniques, among others.
The third and final Talking Series for the conference, titled Show Me The Money: The Right Way To Invest In The MENA Region’s Entrepreneurs, brought together Amer Alaily, Senior Principal at Mubadala Capital - Ventures, Hamdi Osman, Chairman, FundedByMe MENA, Leen Nabulsi, COO, Dubai Smart City Accelerator, and Khaled Talhouni, Managing Director, Wamda Capital to discuss the region’s entrepreneurs access to capital, and how they could fare better with their fundraising initiatives.