Zain presents the first comprehensive digital program to accelerate tech startups

The event brought together Zain senior management and the region’s investment community as well as 25 startups

KUWAIT: Zain, the leading digital service provider in Kuwait, presented the region’s first digital video report on startup innovation, concluding the sixth edition of its famous digital startup accelerator program; Zain Great Idea (ZGI) in collaboration with Brilliant Lab. The event brought together Zain senior management and the region’s investment community as well as 25 startups that have reached the final stages of Zain Great Idea 6. The digital video report was screened in the VOX theaters of the Avenues shopping center and saw the finalists, who represented seven Arab countries present their startups to investors and potential business partners in the MENA region.

Eaman Al Roudhan

During the event, Eaman Al-Roudhan, CEO of Zain Kuwait, addressed the public and startups: “This year we are celebrating 10 years of Zain Great Idea. This is without a doubt one of the most successful initiatives we have presented to the Kuwaiti market as part of our strategy of innovation and entrepreneurship ”.

Al-Roudhan continued, “Over the course of a decade, ZGI has empowered, trained and invested in over 1,500 passionate Kuwaiti and Arab youth, and the program has helped create many job opportunities in the field of startups. regional technology by accelerating more than 100 companies. Al-Roudhan announced, “ZGI’s startup investment is well over KD 6 million ($ 20 million) to date, and 30% of our alumni now own successful businesses that are currently active in the fields. local and regional markets. 40% of these companies raised capital.

Guests watch the digital report

Al-Roudhan noted, “Not surprisingly, digital transformation has been the dominant success for the vast majority of our alumni throughout the history of the program. At its core, ZGI has always been a technology startup accelerator program, and the huge demand for this area of ​​entrepreneurship across Kuwait and the region has only proven that Zain’s vision to achieve digital leadership was on the right track ”.

During the event, Malek Hammoud, Director of Investments and Digital Transformation of the Zain Group, presented the recently launched Zain Ventures brand: “Zain Ventures was created to complement the existing investment portfolio of the Zain Group and open up the door to future investment opportunities in venture capital, FinTech and Tech World, focusing on digital innovations in the growing ecosystem of e-services and startups.

Al Roudhan and Hammoud with Zain officials and ZGI 6 alumni

Hammoud continued, “Zain Ventures is one of the key elements of Zain Group’s ‘4Sight’ strategy. Investing in the world of venture capital provides Zain with a wide range of opportunities to diversify and expand its reach into the surrounding ecosystem. Over the years, Zain has broadened its relationships with regional and international venture capital funds by supporting their portfolio companies whenever appropriate ”.

Hammoud further explained, “The ZGI Accelerator program reinforces Zain Ventures vision to capitalize on regional startups as we continue our active engagement in direct strategic investments in a variety of promising startups from the region and far, in their providing support on multiple fronts including a broad geographic reach and progressive customer base for expansion growth opportunities ”.

The 25 tech startups accelerated by ZGI 6

ZGI 6 witnessed a new chapter in the history of the program, as ZGI 6 alumni were the very first Zain entrepreneurs to complete a full ZGI program in a 100% virtual environment. This, by no means has been such an easy feat. While former ZGI participants had the benefit of learning physically at the world’s best academies in San Francisco, London and Barcelona, ​​ZGI 6 participants had to navigate the uncharted waters of e-learning and online learning. remote collaboration. Technology has undoubtedly played a vital role in making this process less difficult, but the persistence and dedication of the entrepreneurs have been the main elements of their success.

Zain Great Idea 6, being a completely virtual program, exceeded expectations in terms of numbers. Despite the remoteness and the unprecedented situation, 170 ambitious candidates applied, of which 114 participated in the virtual bootcamp and 60 bright minds qualified for the Super Saturday phase. In the end, 25 dedicated finalists from seven different GCC and Arab countries made it to the final stage and pitched their big ideas to potential investors and business partners.

ZGI 6 also recorded the highest participation of women entrepreneurs in the history of the program, adding to the impressive string of triumphs over the past decade, directly contributing to what Zain calls the largest network of startups in the world. the region, with nearly $ 20 million of capital and dollar capital in accelerated startups.

Zain strongly believes in the crucial role played by private sector organizations in supporting social and economic sustainability projects. The company is committed to making a positive impact through all of its activities, which has brought it to embrace the most influential topics in the community, perhaps more importantly the support of youth, the entrepreneurship and innovation, not only in Kuwait, but across the entire region.

Brilliant Lab Founder and CEO Neda Al-Dehani said, “Despite the pandemic, Zain insisted on virtually launching the 2021 edition of ZGI with the aim of supporting startups and entrepreneurs, and we have responded to the pandemic. ‘call to be part of the program once again to continue our mission to accelerate startups in Kuwait and the MENA region to success ”.

Al-Dehani announced, “As part of ZGI 6, Brilliant Lab and Rasameel Investment Company have established a $ 5 million fund to invest in successful startups that are part of the ZGI program.” Al-Dehani continued, “This led to Brilliant Lab and three other investors investing an undisclosed amount in BnchrPlus, a ZGI participating startup specializing in automotive electronics industry services. The investment values ​​BnchrPlus at over $ 3 million, with the start-up predicting revenues of over $ 10 million over the next two years.

The telecommunications company’s highly anticipated program that has attracted over 170 startups from the Middle East and North Africa was undertaken in collaboration with Brilliant Lab, Kuwait’s top startup accelerator service, and Mind the Bridge , an innovation center based in Silicon Valley, United States. The program provided a renewed opportunity for local talent and the region’s entrepreneurial community. Over six successful editions, the program has empowered, trained and invested in hundreds of creative and motivated young Kuwaitis and Arabs, many of whom to date own successful small and medium enterprises (SMEs) active in local and regional markets. . .

Zain is well aware of the crucial role played by private sector organizations in supporting social and economic sustainability projects. Born from its growing commitment to exercise its social responsibility, the company is committed to making a positive impact through all of its activities. This has led Zain to embrace the most influential issues in the community, including youth support, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

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