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Zain, the leading digital service provider in Kuwait, premiered the region’s first Startup Innovation Digital Video Report, covering the sixth edition of its renowned digital startup accelerator program ‘Zain Great Idea (ZGI)’ at an exclusive screening held in Kuwait City.
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In its 10th year, the telco’s much-anticipated program, which attracted more than 170 startups from the Middle East and North Africa this year as undertaken in joint collaboration with Brilliant Lab, Kuwait’s top startup accelerator service, and Mind the Bridge, an innovation center based in Silicon Valley, USA.
The event gathered Zain’s executive management and the region’s investment community along with 25 startups who made it to the final phase of Zain Great Idea 6. The Digital Video Report was screened at VOX Cinemas and saw the finalists, who represented 7 Arab countries, pitch their startups to investors and potential business partners from across MENA.
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Malek Hammoud, Zain Group’s Chief Investment and Digital Transformation Officer, introduced the recently launched Zain Ventures brand: “Zain Ventures was established to complement the existing investment portfolio of Zain Group and open the door to future investment opportunities in the venture capital, FinTech and Tech World, focusing on digital innovations in the fast-growing electronic services and startup ecosystem”
Hammoud elaborated that Zain Ventures is positioned as one of the key elements of Zain Group’s ‘4Sight’ strategy. Investing in the world of venture capital provides Zain with a vast range of opportunities to diversify and expand its reach in the surrounding ecosystem. Over the years, Zain has expanded its relationship with regional and international venture capital funds supporting its portfolio companies whenever appropriate. Hammoud further explained, “The ZGI Accelerator program bolsters Zain Ventures’ vision to capitalize on regional startups as we continue our active engagement in direct strategic investments in a variety of promising startups from the region and afar, offering them support on multiple fronts including a wide geographical reach and progressive customer base for expansion growth opportunities”.
During the event, Eaman Al Roudhan, Zain Kuwait’s Chief Executive Officer addressed the audience and startups: “This year we are celebrating over 10 years of Zain Great Idea. Without any doubt, it has been one of the most successful initiatives we presented in the Kuwaiti market as part of our innovation and entrepreneurship strategy”. Al Roudhan continued: “For over 10 successful years, ZGI has empowered, trained, and invested in over 1,500 passionate Kuwaiti and Arab youth like yourselves, and the program contributed to creating numerous job opportunities in the regional tech-startups arena by accelerating over 100 businesses.”
In a quick yet crucial overview of ZGI alumni success, Al Roudhan highlighted that investments in ZGI startups are well over $20M (KWD 6 M) to this date, where 30% of alumni now own thriving and active businesses across local and regional markets. 40% of these businesses have raised capital. Al Roudhan concluded “Unsurprisingly, digital transformation was the prevailing success story for the vast majority of our alumni throughout the program’s history. At its core, ZGI was always a tech-startup accelerator program, and the huge demand for this area of entrepreneurship across Kuwait and the region only proved that Zain’s vision of achieving digital leadership was on the right track.”
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Waleed Al Khashti, Zain Kuwait’s Chief Corporate Communications and Relations Officer addressed the finalists by saying: “Today we witness a new chapter in the story of our beloved program. You, the ZGI 6 alumni, are the very first of Zain’s own entrepreneurs to have completed an entire ZGI program in a 100% virtual setting. This, by no means, has been as easy feat”. Al Khashti further added: “Zain Great Idea 6, being an-all virtual program, exceeded our expectations in terms of numbers. In spite of the remote setting and unprecedented situation, 170 ambitious applicants applied, of which 114 took part in our virtual Bootcamp and 60 bright minds qualified for the Super Saturday phase. In the end, here we are with 25 dedicated finalists from 8 different Arab countries, ready to pitch your great ideas to investors and business partners."
Al Khashti also announced that ZGI 6 has also seen the highest-ever turnout of female entrepreneurs in the program’s history. The video report covered the many Tech innovations emerging out of ZGI, showing great promise across sectors. Haya Al Mana, Zain Kuwait’s Corporate Sustainability and Innovation Department Manager addressed the attending investment community by saying: “The Zain Great Idea 6 Digital Innovation Report is your gate to the region’s top startups movement of the decade. Today, you will take the very first glimpse into some of the most promising talents in MENA’s digital and entrepreneurship arenas”. Al Mana concluded “The amazing ventures from today’s report, along with all the gifted and dedicated young minds behind them, are nothing short of a reflection of Zain’s growing commitment towards practicing its social responsibility. We are committed to printing a positive impact through all our activities, and this has led us to embrace the most influential topics in communities all around us, perhaps most importantly the support of youth, entrepreneurship, and innovation, not only in Kuwait but across the entire region. This journey hasn’t been easy by any means, but we are grateful to everyone who helped make it the amazing success it is today, no matter how small a part they played”.
Brilliant Lab founder and CEO, Neda Al Dehani Al Dehani announced that as part of ZGI 6, Brilliant Lab and Rasameel Investment Company have created a $5 M fund to invest in successful startups that are part of the ZGI program. Al Dehani expressed Brilliant Lab’s commitment to initiatives such as ZGI “In spite of the pandemic, Zain insisted on launching the 2021 edition of ZGI virtually in an endeavor to support startups and entrepreneurs, and we took the call to be a part of the program yet again to continue our mission to accelerate Kuwait and MENA startups towards success”. Al Dehani continued “This has led Brilliant Lab and three other investors to invest an undisclosed amount in BnchrPlus, a ZGI participating startup that specializes in E-Automotive Industry Services.”
ZGI offered a refreshed opportunity for local talents and the region’s entrepreneurial community. Throughout five successful editions, the program has empowered, trained, and invested in hundreds of creative and driven Kuwaiti and Arab youth, of which many now own thriving and active Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to this day in local and regional markets. Zain is well aware of the crucial role played by private sector organizations in supporting social and economic sustainability projects. Springing from its growing commitment towards practicing its social responsibility, the company is committed to printing a positive impact through all its activities. This has led Zain to embrace the most influential issues in the community, including the support of youth, entrepreneurship, and innovation.
The following is a quick summary of the 25 startups that starred in Zain’s Startup Innovation Digital Video Report:
amaakin- Event Booking/ TANFEES- HealthTech Online Therapy/ FULLTACT- Contacts Manager / Ketabilk- P2P E-commerce/ TDALAL- Gifting Platform/ QURBA- Foody Social Network/ SNATCHR- E-commerce Fashion Outlet/ Hayi- Neighborhood Social Connector/ BNCHR+- Automative Maintenance/ BRANPER- Marketing Research/ SWEECH- Automotive P2P Marketplace/ SCARLT- E-commerce Fashion Outlet/ tamarran- Sports Management/ breez- Proptech AI & IoT/ DHANA- Children Growth Tracker/ LOY CLUB- Loyalty Program Provider/ oostoora- B2B Marketplace/ BAZAARA- P2P E-commerce/ PAWARABIA- Pet Care Products/ SHALAONLINE- Fitness & Wellness Streaming Platfomr/ TRENJH- Farmer Produce Marketplace/ PUNCH- Loyalty Program Provider/ REHLA- Long Distance Transport Solutions/ CC (ConnectedCommunity)- Community Social Connector/ crowdpowered- Altnerative Energy
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