The United Arab Emirates has been recognized as a hub for entrepreneurship in the Middle East and specifically in the GCC. With the strong support programs such as Dubai SME, TwoFour54 and Shelter, the UAE has lead the way in promoting entrepreneurship in the region.
But in the past year, several impressive initiatives have sprung up across the GCC to encourage, support and finance entrepreneurs. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain have all launched programs aimed at fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship in their home economies, inspiring increased support for entrepreneurs and small business across the region: earlier this week, Oman announced an RO100m investment in SME that would include education in entrepreneurship for university students.
Saudi Arabia - Wa’ed
Mega-company Saudi Aramco announced the launch of Wa’ed, an entrepreneurship incubator program for GCC nationals and residents of Saudi Arabia, in November 2011. The program “will fund projects for individuals and companies through partnerships – not loans – by buying equities in these projects.” The program will also partner with King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals to provide “incubator”-style entrepreneurship courses. Eligible candidates can apply to participate in the program here.
Qatar - Silatech and Kiva: Arab Youth
In March of this year, the Doha, Qatar-based firm Silatech announced a partnership with Kiva, the world’s largest online microlending platform, to support Arab youth. Silatech is an entrepreneurship incubator launched in 2008 that “promotes large-scale job creation, entrepreneurship, and access to capital and markets for young people.” The partnership with Kiva is an opportunity to raise capital and global awareness for Arab entrepreneurs. Visitors to the campaign website can make loans starting at just $25 to support more than 50 Arab entrepreneurs from Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan. Doubling the impact of the program, Silatech will match all donations of up to $125,000.
Bahrain - Tenmou
On April 19th, the Bahrain Business Angel Company, Tenmou, hosted the first MENA Angel Investors Conference, a day-long summit for angel investors and select entrepreneurs from across the region to discuss current trends and opportunities for investors. Tenmou, Bahrain’s first angel investment firm, was established in 2010 and began investing in start-ups in the middle of last year. The firm is currently supporting four start-ups in fields ranging from IT to personal fitness. Applications are now open for the 2012 batch.
What other incubation and support programs are fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship in the GCC? Let us know below!
- Mary Ames
Educational Programs Manager//Shelter Dubai
Image available under CC License by Mary Paulose