Business success stories stemming from the Arab world have made headlines in recent years, with governments and private institutions actively encouraging and investing in innovative ventures. The underlying reason is due to the projection that by 2050, 300 million young people will be looking to enter the job market in the MENA region.
According to an expert from the World Bank, Ferid Belhaj, there is a dire need to “start now to address structural impediments to growth and implement policy reforms that would help integrate these young women and men into the labor markets and turn them into drivers of economic growth MENA.”
As such, encouraging the youth to take charge of their futures has been an ongoing feat. The MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition is one such initiative, where the most promising startups from the region are recognized, mentored and given the tools to grow.
The competition, which took place on March 28 in Beirut, had sixty five startups presenting their companies, ideas, and social enterprises to a judging committee of investors and industry experts, who provided a fair and transparent evaluation for each team. Beirut Digital District acted as a partner on the project, to support companies in their budding ventures.
After numerous rounds of screening and a bootcamp, 9 winners were chosen, with 3 winners for each track: Startups Track, Ideas Track, and Social Entrepreneurship Track.
• STARTUPS TRACK: 1st Place Mashvisor (Palestine), 1st runner up Repzo (Jordan), 2nd runner up Furnwish (Egypt)
• IDEAS TRACK: 1st Place Quadra (Lebanon), 1st runner up ADDENDA (UAE), 2nd runner up DLOC Biosystems (Lebanon)
• SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP TRACK: 1st Place Compost Baladi (Lebanon), 1st runner up Ahmini (Tunisia), 2nd runner up CanBank (Egypt)
Commenting on the competition, Hala Fadel, in her capacity as Chairperson of the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab, said: “Our 150 semifinalists from 12 different countries, and many women among them show how entrepreneurs in our region will lead the way towards change. This year we published for the first time an impact report and our competition has contributed to the creation of 14,000 jobs in our region, contributed 415 million dollars to the Arab world’s GDP, and shifted the mindset of thousands of Arabs. We are grateful to the many partners who supported this initiative.”
“The region is full of young talent and creative entrepreneurs, many of whom are among us today. All they need is for policymakers to give them the opportunity to excel,” added Belhaj.
The MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab has once again, culminated a successful Arab Startup Competition, alongside its partners who share the same belief, with regards to the impact and importance of such initiatives, to enable the Arab entrepreneurship ecosystem.