In the presence of HE Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Trade, fourteen teams of Arab entrepreneurs gathered at the Meydan IMAX Theatre, Dubai, for the final decision-making of 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).
A record 4,500 applications were submitted to the MIT Enterprise Forum, whose aim is to develop and nurture a culture of entrepreneurship across the Arab region and provide a platform for networking, knowledge sharing and the coaching and mentorship of the next generation of entrepreneurs. Of the fourteen finalists, Butterfleye from Lebanon were named winner of this year’s MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Business Plan Competition, receiving USD 50,000 in start-up funds to help realise their dream.
Showcasing equally impressive business plans, Qabila Media Productions from Egypt were awarded with USD 10,000 in start-up capital for second place, and SilGenix from Egypt were presented with USD 5,000 for third place. Identifying entrepreneurial women across the region, Perihan Abou-Zeid was also recognised as this year’s Best Woman Entrepreneur, receiving a special prize of USD 15,000 to help seed her innovative business plan.
This year, half of the final business plans included technology or telecommunications start-ups. Media, social networks and agriculture made up the additional fledgling business schemes, highlighting the innovative, entrepreneurial spirit throughout the Middle East region.
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.