Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Jordanian Government To Launch Two Venture Capital Funds

| May 21, 2009 – 4:45 pm | comment No Comments

Jordan Enterprise Development Corporation (JEDCO)The Government of Jordan, represented by Jordan Enterprise Development Corporation (JEDCO), has launched a Call for Proposals to pre-select one or two fund managers to provide services in relation to the establishment and management of the up-coming Early Stage and Capital for Growth funds in Jordan.

The Funds are part of the Jordan Enterprise Venture Capital Programme 2009 aiming at developing the emerging venture capital service industry in Jordan and at improving access to equity and quasi-equity financing for SMEs in Jordan.

The Funds will have minimum sizes of EUR5M/US$6.9M (Early Stage) and EUR20M/US$27.5M (Capital for Growth), of which 60% and 35% respectively have been committed in-principle by anchor investors.

The Funds will be managed by the private sector with the anchor investors being treated on a pari passu basis with private sector investors, in terms of risks and rewards. Selection of Fund Manager(s) will be determined on a competitive basis.

Bidding for the management of these funds is open to Venture Capital fund management companies, consortia, new management teams or promoters in a position to demonstrate their ability to:

  • Formulate investment strategies matching the Funds’ investment policies;
  • Mobilise a management team with relevant track-record;
  • Raise additional funds from private and institutional investors;
  • Source deals and actively manage the portfolio to create value.

The guidelines for submitting applications are available under the Venture Capital section on the JEDCO website: http://www.jedco.gov.jo.
The final closing date for receipt of proposals is on 15 June 2009 at 15:00 hrs. GMT + 3.

This is a great move by the Jordanian government to try to help build and enrich a professional VC industry in the country. A move worth following closely, and we’ll make sure to keep an eye on it and bring you any updates and news on how things develop.

[Source: Economist]
[Via: Sindibad

The 10 Finalists Of MIT Arab Business Plan Competition 08-09

| May 20, 2009 – 4:24 pm | comment No Comments

MIT Arab Business Plan CompetitionThe MIT Arab Business Plan Competition is a competition designed to encourage all entrepreneurs in the Arab world to start their own company and, ultimately, create a nest of leading firms in the Arab world.

The current version of the competition officially started on November 10th 2008, by opening up registrations. Now, after two rounds of selection, the following 10 finalists from around the Arab world have made it to the final round of the competition (in alphabetical order):

  • AqarMap.com: Amad Almsaodi, Mohamed Hareth, Redwan Mohamed (Yemen)
  • Blog Souq: Ahmad Takatkah, Adey Salamin, Ammar Ibrahim (Jordan)
  • Digital Security Innovations: Adel Bouhoula, Seifeddine Aloui, Amine Ben Khalifa, Mohamed Abid (Tunisia)
  • EnglEasy: AbdulAziz Ahmed Al-Sulaima, Ahmed Siddiqui, Ayman Makki Hoho (Saudi Arabia)
  • HAYATI Healthcare LLC: Michael Matly, Tariq El-Titi, David Matly (United Arab Emirates)
  • Rice Straw Fertilizer Company: Ibrahim Khater Youssef, Ahmed El Dorghamy, Mohamed Abdel Raouf (Egypt)
  • Syphir (GFMail): Husain Al-Mohssen, Courtland Allen, Ghassan Fayad, Faisal Alibrahim (Saudi Arabia)
  • Transterra Media: Irina Prentice, Hassan Ibrahim, Eli Andrews, Jonathan Giesen, Raya Mamarbachi (Egypt)
  • Vaxeal Therapeutics: Ahmed Bouzidi, Bernard Maillere, Giampietro Corradin, Wassim Chehadeh, Mohammed Bouziane, Francois Spertini (United Arab Emirates)
  • White Smile Whitening Boutique: Jomana Musmar, Lamis Maddur, Nigah M. Ajaj, Saoussen Besrour (United Arab Emirates)

The final round consists of oral presentations of the finalists’ business plans to the jury panel in Dubai, on June 11th 2009. The awards ceremony will take place the following day in Dubai, on June 12th 2009.

The winner of the competition will receive prize money of USD 50,000. The check will be issued in the name of the company. The members of the winning team will also be given the opportunity to attend the MIT Global Startup Workshop (GSW)

The first and second runner-ups will receive a check of USD 10,000 and USD 5000 respectively. 

Besides the financial reward, the winning teams will be provided with coaching/mentoring from the members and network of the MIT Enterprise Forum who will also help the winners get their businesses up and explore further funding opportunities by introducing them to business development centers, financing institutions, and similar organizations. 

IIT Forum 6: The Arab World’s Top 10 Investment Ready Startups

| May 19, 2009 – 12:10 pm | comment 8 Comments

Investing in Technology ForumThe 6th Investing In Technology Forum; an event that aims to be a networking opportunity for entrepreneurs, researchers, investors, regional corporate CEOs, and all technology leaders in the region to get together to share experiences, develop relationships and explore business opportunities; took place in Cairo, Egypt, last week.

One of the items on the event’s agenda was a series of pitches by Arab technology startups to a panel of the region’s most prominent angel investors and venture capitalists, in hopes to be selected among the top 10 investment ready startups in the Arab world.

There were 33 startups from around the region who pitched their businesses, and the panel evaluated each startup and gave them a score, rating them by their potential and readiness for investment.

The following ten startups came out on top: 

  • Droubi: A company that has invented and patented a new method of dental surgery.
  • Glocalizer: A company that provides free wireless and technology advertising based products.
  • Applied Research Institute: A company that works on new technologies for water treatment and organic food.
  • eSpace: For WeNear, their framework for location based mobile services.
  • MobiLaps: A company that develops network applications for internet service providers.
  • Talasim: An online social network and photo gallery for comedy/funny content.
  • Aboker: A company that works on technology to produce biofuel and silicon carbon from environmental waste.
  • Vertex: A company that builds customised three-dimensional virtual worlds for education, real estate …etc.
  • SilMinds: A company that provides hardware acceleration technology thats speeds up intensive computing processes.
  • Kindisoft: A company that helps businesses to better protect their Rich Internet Applications based on Adobe Flash.

Quite an interesting mix of startups covering different fields, some who were only recently launched, and some that date back to the late 80′s, early 90′s (Droubi: 1989, Applied Research Institute: 1990).

After the selection happened, a number of the top startups were approached by some of the present investors who were interested in their businesses.

A list of these top 10 startups and their full descriptions can be downloaded in PDF format here. (Courtesy of Beep Beep.)

[Via: Beep Beep]

Intel Capital Invests In Two Jordanian Companies Jeeran And ShooFeeTV

| May 17, 2009 – 9:44 am | comment 2 Comments
Intel
Jeeran
ShooFeeTV

In a joint press conference today in Amman, Jordan, Intel Capital‘s latest investments in the Arab internet scene were announced.

These new investments from Intel Capital are in Jordanian internet companies Jeeran, one of the leading user generated content portals in the Arab world, and ShooFeeTV, a free online Arabic television guide. Both companies are also IV Holdings portfolio companies.

This comes among Intel Capital’s ongoing push in the region, supporting local entrepreneurship in the Middle East and funding companies in the internet and technology sectors through its $50 million Intel Capital Middle East and Turkey Fund, which is aimed to assist the companies in pursuing regional growth and development plans in addition to extending their product offerings.

Under the umbrella of this fund, Intel continues to increase its investment in four key areas: local entrepreneurship, education, digital accessibility and specialized technical competencies, to help promote technology skills, knowledge transfer and jobs creation.

As has become custom for most such investments in the Arab world, the size of these investments has not been disclosed.

Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship Organises The Entrepreneurs Week – May 16-21 (Amman, Jordan)

| May 11, 2009 – 5:41 pm | comment No Comments

QRCEThe Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship is organizing a really interesting event ‘The Entrepreneurs Week‘ between 16th-21st of May, in Amman, Jordan.

The event aims to open an interactive discussion with a number of interesting international speakers who will speak about several important topics in Entrepreneurship, Business and Management.

The topics to be discussed are the following:

  • BlueOcean Strategy: How to transform a new business idea into a winning strategy
    Speaker: Mohammad Ajlouni (Managing Director, MDS)
      
  • Identifying your Strengths as an Entrepreneur
    Speaker: Ronald Evans (CEO, SIMA International)
      
  • Idea to Reality
    Speaker: Habib Haddad (Co-Founder, Yamli.com)
      
  • Innovation in Open Networks – Perspectives from an Internet entrepreneur and venture capitalist
    Speaker: Joi Ito (CEO, Creative Commons)
      
  • Cross-cultural business issues as companies expand internationally
    Speaker: Doug Christgau (Director, Cross-Cultural Development)
      
  • The current U.S. and world financial market situation.
    Speaker: Larry Hutchins (Certified Financial Planner, Wachovia)
      
  • Insights into family-owned companies in regards to economic and human resource issues.
    Speaker: John Carmon (President, Carmon Community Funeral Homes)

The event is free of charge. For registration or any further information, you can check out their website http://www.qrce.org/eweek or call +962 6 515 4892.

If you’re registered to the StartUpArabia Events iCal feed in your calendar software, the event should already be showing up in your calendar for the days of the event.

Interview with Dan Stuart, Managing Partner At Intilaq

| April 27, 2009 – 10:01 am | comment 2 Comments

Dan StuartOne of the most interesting developments that have taken place recently in the internet entrepreneurship and venture capital space in the Arab world has been the launch of Bayt’s venture capital arm “Intilaq”.

To get even more details about this exciting bit of news, I got to ask Dan Stuart, who is Head of strategic initiatives at Bayt and a Managing Partner at Intilaq, a few questions about it all; why they’re doing it, why now, where they’re going and more.

I’d like to thank him very much for taking some of his time to answer these questions and provide us all with more insight into this new venture.

What made Bayt decide to move into the venture capital space?
The vision and mission of Bayt.com don’t say anything about being strictly a job site, per se. From the outset, the founders were focused on creating a Middle Eastern institution that empowers people in the region to build better lives. Jobs were the primary focus because of their direct impact on lifestyle – and we have maintained a firm leadership positioning in that domain as measured by any parameter – but from the outset we recognized that there are many other opportunities to better people’s lives in the Middle East. Combine this affinity to the people of the region with a first-hand understanding of the unique needs of the region as well as the challenges in starting a business in the region, and add to that a strong desire to expand our scope and invest the capital reserves that we have built over time, and we decided that an investment arm was the logical next step.

Why did you choose to do it now?
There has never been a better time to start an online business in the Middle East. Internet penetration is skyrocketing, there is a huge bubble in regional demographics at the youth level, successful online business models are prevalent globally, but still relatively nascent regionally, and agile and open source technologies are making it easier to put vision into reality. Inefficient processes are ripe for disruption, and with funding and mentorship, we think that there is great potential for not only local/regional Internet successes to emerge, but truly global leaders. There is no reason that a Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Facebook, Baidu, Salesforce, or other online tech leader cannot – and should not – emerge from the MENA region.

(more…)

Salam Business Club Takes Important Step Into Islamic Finance and Banking

| April 23, 2009 – 10:37 am | comment 11 Comments

Salam Business Club

Salam Business Club (SalamBC), the social business network built especially for the Arab, Asian and Muslim business world, and that recently launched versions in Arabic, Urdu and other languages (and soon in Persian), will be officially announcing an interesting new business development for their service in the upcoming days.

Through a partnership with the Institute for Islamic Finance and Banking (IFIBAF), they aim to be the first online destination to offer Islamic Finance and Banking products to its members.

The deal comes at a time when demand for Islamic financial products is really high and growing, both from Muslims as well as non-Muslims all around the world, yet this demand remains far from covered and satisfied by whatever offers currently exist in the market. And the current economic crisis is pushing even more people to consider Islamic finance and banking as a safer option, with a number of banks working on building up Islamic finance units.

The Islamic finance industry, which is still a nascent one, is currently estimated at $700 billion to $1 trillion in asset size, with a 15-20 percent annual growth rate.

The move by SalamBC to launch such products also comes upon the requests and feedback that they kept constantly getting through listening to their members.

With this deal, SalamBC brings its whole database of members from over 180 countries worldwide to the table, while the IFIBAF brings its long years of experience with Islamic finance and banking, as well as its extensive global network within the Islamic Banking Community, to offer together a central entry point to Shariah-compliant financial products for everyone interested.

Their initial focus for their offerings will be on the European market, as the demand there is largely unsatisfied, but they will be extending to the rest of the world soon after that, as they continue to finalize more partnerships and agreements around the world.

Salam Business Club

Interview With Mohamad Haj Hasan, Co-Founder Of Jawaker & Akhtaboot

| April 22, 2009 – 9:45 am | comment 2 Comments

Mohamad Haj HasanGoing back to our interviews with Arab internet entrepreneurs, we bring you a new interview with Mohamad Haj Hasan, co-founder of Jordan based Boundless, the company behind online cards game destination Jawaker, and online job portal Akhtaboot.

Of course, before anything I’d like to thank Mohamad for taking the time to answer our questions about Jawaker, their experience with it and where they aim to take it.

How did you get the idea for Jawaker? and what made you passionate about it as a project?

The idea of Jawaker came about when my partner, Yousef Shamoun, and I were bored one day and felt like playing cards online. We knew that there were a bunch of sites offering a wide variety of card games, and we thought that there must be at least one that has the card games that we grew up with (i.e. Trix, Tarneeb, Basra, etc.). Of course, we knew there were many programs that allowed us to play with a computer, but we wanted a multi-player experience of playing with other people. After spending time searching for such a site with no success, we decided to build our own site.

We decided to have our gaming infrastructure be based in Javascript (without the need for any downloads) in order to allow us to rapidly develop new games for the site. It is very easy to be passionate about Jawaker, because everything we do is very fun. Testing literally means playing, and since you are the first mover in the market, the thrill of innovation is a huge motivator.

What were the main challenges you faced while bringing Jawaker to life?

We originally thought that a gaming website would be simple. But we soon realized that there were so many issues and hurdles, even beyond the obvious technical ones. Gathering the “official” rules for these games and applying the UI based on these rules is not an easy task. Also, having the game play be user-friendly, fun and as close to playing in reality is quite challenging. There were huge debates on how and what information to show and also how to design gaming transitions that would scale across multiple games.

Then came the users and all the issues that come with putting yourself out there in front of people. We were always focused on a multi-player gaming experience, and that means that a critical mass of concurrent users needs to be on your site in order for the site to become alive. Tweaking the options around the game play itself was a big challenge that we solved by gathering statistics, listening to our users and reading the logs.

(more…)

Bayt Launches Intilaq, Gets Into Early Stage Funding For Internet Startups In The Arab World

| April 16, 2009 – 3:37 pm | comment 9 Comments

IntilaqBayt.com, the leading job portal in the Arab world, is launching a new and very interesting initiative called Intilaq, that aims to fund, mentor and support aspiring entrepreneurs with early-stage technology startups.

Intilaq is interested in funding and supporting startups based in the Arab world, or who are interested in relocating to the region, that drive regional internet adoption, usage and functionality.

Intilaq is not an incubation program, nor a competition, what they’ll be doing is evaluating ideas and people on an on-going basis, looking for the right fit, and funding chosen projects in exchange for equity in the company. Depending on how much progress the entrepreneurs have made, the funding could be at a seed round or at a follow-up round.
There is also no defined amount with which they are seeding the fund, choosing to remain flexible and acting on a case by case basis.

Intilaq is interested in hearing from both technology geeks, who have technical talent and a great innovative idea looking to start a company, as well as business people, who have great business aptitude (e.g., operations, sales, marketing, business development, finance) and who want to work with technical people to build a great company.

By doing this, Bayt is looking to invest some of the experience and money it has gained over the years, building their own success, into new startups in return for equity, or the benefit of a strategic acquisition, or even to just help grow regional Internet usage and winning by growing the online employment market for Bayt.com.

Besides funding, experience and mentorship; Bayt also offers to help with invaluable industry contacts from around the region, and even workspace in some cases whether at their offices in Dubai Internet City or one of their other offices around the Arab world.

The Intilaq team is made up of Rabea Ataya, the CEO of Bayt.com, and Dan Stuart, the Head of Strategic Initiatives at Bayt.com; both as managing partners, with Dan running the day-to-day operations.

Intilaq

BarCamp UAE Un-Conference, Dubai Internet City, May 9th 2009

| April 7, 2009 – 1:47 pm | comment 10 Comments

BarCampAfter the DemoCamps, Tweetups, and Twestival; Dubai will soon be witnessing another interesting event: BarCamp UAE.

BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering, born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. These events are quite intense with discussions, demos, and interaction from attendees.

The unconference will be taking place on May 9th 2009 in Dubai Internet City’s Building #3 (Thuraya Conference Hall.)

The concept lies on the basis that everyone is able to teach something and learn something in return, so it is open for all participants to talk, share, discuss, debate, enquire and learn.

Some of the topics that some of the participants will be talking about are: Why it’s the best time to build a great enterprise; Sustainability; Advertising, digital media, social media and more; Web standards; How to build a cohesive presentation; Media in the Middle East; Think tooling your life; and so much more, with people from different background, covering different topics and subjects.
For an idea about the different topics, you can check this link: BarCamp UAE 1 Topics.

People interested in participating can sign up through the following form: BarCamp UAE 1 Sign-up Form.

For more information and details about BarCamp UAE, you can check out the site: BarCamp UAE.

If you’re registered to the StartUpArabia Events iCal feed in your calendar software, the event should already be showing up in your calendar for that day.

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