Its competition season for entrepreneurs in the Middle East.
Du is making headlines with the launch of their new reality TV show, The Entrepreneur, but this televised race-to-the-investor is just one of many entrepreneur competitions taking place across the region.
Here we take a look at the various entrepreneur competitions that are wrapping up, in progress or launching across the United Arab Emirates. What are the goals of these competitions? What happens to your start-up if you don’t win? And - what happens to anyone’s business after the awards ceremony?
Below are four competitions taking place in the UAE. Many of the competitions are underway and registration is closed - so mark your calendars for 2013!
The Entrepreneur - Du
- Open to: “The competition is open to UAE residents above 18 years old and who’ve got a registered UAE company in their name. NGOs, societies, and associations are also welcome to submit their innovative ideas.”
- Registration status: Application submission deadline 31 March, 2012
- Mission statement: “The Entrepreneur, an exciting new TV reality show presented by du, welcomes a new genre of entrepreneurs in the UAE with impactful ideas and exceptional drive, be they existing ventures which need recapitalisation or business plans which require start-up capital.”
- The winner gets: “AED 1 million towards their business along with professional services and support worth more than half a million dirhams e.g. office space, telecommunications services, advertising/PR exposure, management and business planning, etc.”
The MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Business Plan Competition - MIT Enterprise Forum
- Open to: “At least three team members per application entry. At least two of the three team members must be Arab nationals. The Business idea should be implemented in one of the Arab world countries with potential to grow regionally and internationally”
- Registration status: Registration closed. (Workshop to be held in Abu Dhabi on March 18th and 19th).
- Mission statement: “The MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan Arab Region’s vision is to develop and nurture a culture of entrepreneurship across the Arab region, in view of becoming the most influential entrepreneurial network in the Arab world. This is done through building a platform for networking, knowledge sharing, showcasing, coaching and mentorship for entrepreneurs.”
- The winner gets: “A prize money will be awarded to the top three winning teams of the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Business Plan Competition. The team ranking in first place receives $50K in prize money, while $10K and $5K are granted to the teams ranking first runner-up and second runner-up respectively. The winning team may be short of money to establish a company. In this case, the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan Arab Region will advance USD 5,000 from the award money towards the establishment of the new company. The balance will be received by the newly established company upon completion of the incorporation papers.”
Business Acumen 4 Good Competition - Dubai+Acumen
- Open to: “The applicant must be a UAE resident. The idea for the venture should address a social and/or environmental problem through a product or service. Potential themes include, but are not limited to: Water, Health, Agriculture, Energy, Housing, Education, Environment. The project must be based in the UAE. Team size is not restricted”
- Registration status: Competition has ended
- Mission statement: “Have a business idea that will help make the UAE a better place to live? Want to make a difference in your community? Thought of a way to tackle an environmental issue, or educate our kids better? Is your idea tech-based, or in some way replicable in other countries? Put your IDEA to ACTION!”
- The winner gets: “Prize money. One-year membership at The Hub Dubai and access to The Hub’s network globally. Thee month Strategy, Brand and Digital Mentorship by Xische & Co.”
The Big Start - Al Tamimi Investments
- Open to: “Final year undergraduate or postgraduate university/college student up till 30 years of age as of the launch of the competition studying in the UAE.”
- Registration status: Registration closed. (Workshop to be held on business planning on March 10th).
- Mission Statement: “The Big Start is a student business plan competition with a Big difference - You will not be competing for a mere cash prize... This could be The Big Start to your amazing new career in your own business! This initiative has been created by Al Tamimi Investments (ATI). This is the third year of an annual program, which aims to cultivate, inspire and reward young people's interest in entrepreneurship within the UAE.”
- The winner gets: “The successful student(s) will become engaged with Al Tamimi Investments and will be nurtured and mentored throughout the business start-up phase by an experienced team from Al Tamimi Investments. When the business goes live, the successful student(s) will hold the CEO position and an agreed structured shareholding in the company.”
Many will enter, all will win.
Embedded in any good entrepreneurship competition is a series of workshops and networking sessions that benefit all participants, giving them access to the tools that will help them reach their short- and long-term business goals.
Workshops include seminars on pitching, planning, financing, marketing and growth. Whatever the topic, every participant will walk away from the table with a new set of skills that will be critical to launching and growing a successful business.
The exposure granted by the competitions is also a boon for entrepreneurs. It is possible that your product might not win the pitching contest, but it is also possible that you caught the ear of an investor in the audience. The opportunity to introduce your idea to like-minded pool of colleagues and investors is always a good move for a young start-up.
The finish line or the starting line?
What will happen to the entrepreneurs that win these competitions? For many, the first flush of cash will be the critical piece in launching a successful, scalable and impactful product. For others, the attention will spur a flurry of interest that will soon fade, and the entrepreneurs may experience the first “must” of success: failure.
Regardless of whether the victor’s venture thrives or fails, there will be tough decisions ahead.
And the competition is not over for the runners-up, either. Regardless if they win or lose the competition, the region’s new generation of entrepreneurs will continue struggling to grow their business long after the awards ceremony. And, like all striving entrepreneurs and small business owners, they will rely on a community that is supportive and conducive to entrepreneurship.
So - whether you are a participant or a viewer - don’t tune out when the competition wraps up. That is when the real work of (supporting) entrepreneurship begins.
- Mary Ames
Educational Programs Manager//Shelter Dubai
Image available under CC License by tableatny