UAE. 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 US$10,000 in start-up capital for second place, and SilGenix from Egypt were presented with US$5,000 for third place. Identifying entrepreneurial women across the region, Perihan Abou-Zeid was also recognized as this year’s ‘Best Woman Entrepreneur’, receiving a special prize of US$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.
About the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan Arab Region
The MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan Arab Region is one of the 11 international chapters of the MIT Enterprise Forum Global, which is headquartered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. It has a proven record in promoting MIT-style entrepreneurship by organizing and managing each year the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Business Plan Competition in partnership with ALJ Community Initiatives and a joint initiative with GIST, targeting 21 countries of the Arab region and bringing in more than 4,000 applications a year.
About Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives (ALJ)
Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives is committed to the development of the Arab region. Mohammad Abdul Latif Jameel, President of ALJ Co. and an MIT alumnus from the class of 78, believes this partnership “reflects our belief in young entrepreneurs as future leaders in the Arab world. Entrepreneurship education and promotion are fundamental for a healthy and growing Arab ecosystem able and willing to create new jobs, and this Competition is at the heart of it”.
About Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST)
The Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) initiative forges links at the individual and institutional levels among technology entrepreneurs, angel investors, and the marketplace to improve quality of life through economic prosperity. The GIST initiative builds entrepreneurial ecosystems in 43 countries across the Middle East, Central and South East Asia, and Africa by identifying, coaching, funding most promising entrepreneurs through its competitions, start-up acceleration services, online social media platform and interactive mentorship programs.
The GIST Initiative is implemented by CRDF Global and funded by the U.S. Department of State. www.gistinitiative.org