The Middle East and Africa Region (MENA) has been witnessing phenomenal growth in start-ups for the past few years. The start-up ecosystem in the region is evolving fast and is unfolding new opportunities for anyone willing to turn their entrepreneurial ambitions into reality. The UAE in particular has emerged as one of the most lucrative start-up destinations, thanks to the federal government’s pro-active policies, state-of-the-art infrastructure, relaxed rules and regulations, access to funding and regional markets, a diversified talent pool, etc.
The UAE’s recent decisions to allow 100 per cent foreign ownership of companies and extend long-term residency permits to tech start-up entrepreneurs have given a major boost to the start-up ecosystem in the country. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are now particularly on global entrepreneurs’ radar.
Of the 190 economies, the World Bank in its Ease of Doing Business Index 2020 ranked the UAE as the 16th most feasible economy for business regulation and operation, and 17th in terms of starting a business. Of the 50 most-funded start-ups named by Forbes, 33 are headquartered in the Emirates. At least 35 per cent of the start-ups in the Middle East are headquartered in the UAE. These new businesses raised over a record $1 billion in investment in 2020. Tamara, a Saudi fintech start-up, broke regional records by raising a $110 million series A investment, featured at the recently-held GITEX Global, an initiative that bridged entrepreneurs with corporate and government entities and brought together exceptional talent from more than 40 countries.
With the government aiming at establishing a new “non-oil” economy in the next 50 years and becoming home to 20 ‘unicorns’ — new companies that are valued at over $1 billion — in the next 10 years, the time is ripe for ambitious entrepreneurs and promising start-ups to think big and foray into the Middle East to make the most of the emerging opportunities.
To help promising start-ups grow in size and stature and fulfill their objective of becoming multi-national enterprises, Seed Group, a company of the Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum, recently launched a one-of-its-kind accelerator program, the Seed platform, in Dubai.
Even though the Emirates gives startups an unmatchable and conducive ecosystem for exponential growth, many don’t do well in the first three years of their inception. As per some reports, over 90 per cent of start-ups fail, not because of capital but due to lack of industry experience, poor understanding of the market, inefficient products and services, and the absence of a professional workforce, among others.
The Seed acceleration program provides the necessary early-stage assistance to help growth-oriented start-ups cross the initial barriers to success. Under this, the Group will incubate start-ups and help them accelerate their growth and become self-reliant so that they can create a niche in the Middle East market on their own and exploit it to the optimum.
Bringing in a rich experience and understanding of operating in the Middle East market coupled with a wide range of expertise, the Seed Group has become a notable diversified company operating in technology, healthcare, tourism and hospitality, and real estate sectors in the Gulf region. Over the past 16 years, it has formed strategic alliances with leading global companies representing diverse regions to accelerate their sustainable market entry and presence within the MENA region. More than 70 companies work under the Group’s umbrella through either investments or strategic partnerships.
The Seed Group, through the Seed platform, will join hands with start-ups and provide them with all the required assistance in the form of advice, capital, human resources, market penetration, etc., for six to 12 months. Most importantly, the accelerator program will give start-ups access to top decision-makers in government as well as private sectors in the fastest-growing economies in the region and further opportunities with prospective clients based out of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia regions to expand their business footprint in the region.
What distinguishes the Seed platform from other accelerator programs in the region is its area-specific assistance to promising firms. No matter what the area of concern or bottleneck for a start-up is, the Seed platform pitches in to provide long-term solutions to turn the venture into a profitable one.
Companies that have some kind of customer base and are struggling to pass the profitability threshold are eligible to be part of the Seed Group’s accelerator program. For detailed information about the requirements or criteria, interested start-ups can visit the Group’s website and fill out an application form.
The applicants are assessed and asked to provide information about their respective companies, founders, teams, and business ideas. If an applicant company clears the scrutiny stage, it is called for a panel interview. Once it clears all the stages, the company stands to benefit from the Seed platform.
As part of the Group’s accelerator program, a company or an entrepreneur can expect holistic, whole-hearted assistance to turn their weak areas into strength. The Group is looking forward to sharing its rich experience with small-to medium-sized companies, and even large ones, and working with them through its accelerator program in Dubai, the perfect place to turn around your entrepreneurial fortunes.
Visit www.seedgroup.com/seed-acceleration-program for more information.
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