Fourteen teams including the brightest entrepreneurial minds in the Middle East are heading to Dubai this month for the final decision-making in the fifth annual Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Enterprise Forum Arab Business Plan Competition, in partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives (ALJ) and a joint initiative with Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST).
The UAE’s Minister of Foreign Trade, HE Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, heads the six-person jury tasked with selecting three winning business plans, which will receive start-up funding including a USD 50,000 first prize, a USD 10,000 second prize, and a USD uSD 5,000third prize. A special prize of USD 15,000 for the Best Woman Entrepreneur will also be presented as part of the final award ceremony in Dubai on 28 June. Of the fourteen finalist teams selected from more than 4500 applications received, seven are from Egypt, three are from Lebanon, two from Palestine, and one team each hail from Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. Half of the final business plans include technology or telecommunications start-ups, while media, social networks and agriculture make up the other fledgling business schemes vying for seed capital in the 2012 MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Business Plan Competition.
“The Arab world has a pressing need for innovation and job creation – both of these issues are dynamically addressed by the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Business Plan Competition. The number of applications we have received during the last few years has doubled annually,underscoring the entrepreneurial spirit throughout the Middle East and the platform that we have established to showcase the bright ideas emanating from more than 20 countries in this region,” said Hala Fadel, Chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan Arab Region.
Joining HE Sheikha Lubna on the jury for the fifth annual MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Business Plan Competition are Rashid Al Ballaa, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of National Net Ventures (N2V); Ali Al-Husry, Chairman of Endeavor Jordan; Said Darwazah, Chief Executive Officer of Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC; OssamaHassanein, Chairman of Techwadi; and Fred Sicre, partner at Abraaj Capital. The fourteen finalist teams rehearse their new business pitch presentations for a full day on 27th June with Ihab Khalil, Senior Associate and Chady Zein, Principal at Booz & Co before pitching their business plans in front of the jury on 28th June, with the winners named that evening at an awards ceremony at the Meydan, Dubai.
The Final Award Ceremony will take place on 28th June at the Meydan IMAX Theatre, Dubai. The ceremony will include a keynote address by HE Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, in addition to panel discussions from regional business leaders. A great networking opportunity, the event is open to the public and is free of charge. To RSVP please log onto: http://miteffinalawardceremonydubai.eventbrite.com/
The annual Arab Business Plan Competition is among the key initiatives developed by MIT Enterprise Forum, which aims to develop and nurture a culture of entrepreneurship across the Arab region by providing a platform for networking, knowledge sharing, showcasing new concepts, and the coaching and mentorship of the next generation of entrepreneurs. More than 200 new companies have been created through the competition, developing employment opportunities for hundreds of young entrepreneurs in the Middle East since 2006. More information can be found at:http://www.mitarabcompetition.com
Before joining SME Advisor, I worked as a producer/reporter for Forbes Media in New York. I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and International Studies at the University of South Florida in the US. I am currently in Dubai working as Sub-Editor for SME Advisor Middle East, which is a business magazine published by CPI. You can follow me on Twitter: @joumanasaad or @SMEadvisorME and (Joumana Saad) or (SME Advisor) on LinkedIn.