MENA tech startups get chance to bag $1m growth funding in MiSK initiative

Fifteen technology firms will be given the opportunity to participate in a three-month program of bootcamps aimed at fast-tracking promising young entrepreneurs to achieving their business goals through Saudi MiSK Foundation initiative. (Pixabay/apriltan18)
Updated 10 July 2019

MENA tech startups get chance to bag $1m growth funding in MiSK initiative

  • 15 successful applicants will join in three bootcamps and demo day in Riyadh
  • Each company selected to take part in the project will receive an initial $100,000

ARAB NEWS JEDDAH: Innovative business startups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region could receive cash injections of up to $1 million as part of a newly launched growth initiative.
Fifteen technology firms will be given the opportunity to participate in a three-month program of bootcamps aimed at fast-tracking promising young entrepreneurs to achieving their business goals.
The non-profit Misk Foundation has launched its growth accelerator scheme for MENA technology startups in partnership with innovation investor organizations Seedstars and Vision Ventures.
Each company selected to take part in the project will receive an initial $100,000 with the chance of a follow-up $1 million. The business accelerator program, which will run from September to December this year, is targeted at startup ventures with product/market fit that are looking to expand.
The 15 successful applicants will join in three on-site bootcamps and a demo day in Riyadh, allowing them to stay close to customers while receiving constant coaching from in-house and external growth experts.
Seedstars, a global organization with a mission to impact people’s lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship, and ​Vision Ventures, a renowned venture capital firm investing throughout the MENA region, will jointly pump $100,000 into each of the initiative’s participating startups and will then consider follow-on investments.
Kais Al-Essa, founding partner and CEO of Vision Ventures, said: “​Being entrepreneurs ourselves, we know how founders suffer in their journey toward success. Our role is to try to add light and direction to the roads ahead of them.
“The co-investment model in this program gives startups two great institutions on their capitalization table, access to a strong local and regional network, and knowledge of Vision Ventures, in addition to the global Seedstars platform.”
The focus of the growth program will be to help startups with product/market fit to implement a process in order to deliver consistent high growth.
“​Startups often have a misconception that growth comes from hacks, while in fact it’s a process. Growth is a culture, a mindset and a methodology that needs to be implemented, and that’s the main goal of the program​,” said Charlie Graham-Brown, CIO of Seedstars.
Program participants will also receive coaching on other key topics such as talent management, leadership and fundraising strategy.
Applications are now open and will be accepted until July 21. To qualify, applicants must be tech startups from any sector in the MENA region, have raised funds of between $250,000 and $1 million, have more than $10,000 in monthly recurring revenue, and have product/market fit.
The growth accelerator aims to build on the existing work of startup ecosystem enablers in the MENA region.
​Osama Al-Raee, entrepreneurship growth director at Misk Foundation, said: “Misk Innovation has been supporting early stage startups through various initiatives such as e​vents, bootcamps and acceleration programs. We now see a need to help startups make the jump to become ready for series A round.
“We believe that the combined program of investment and know-how can make a real difference. This is all part of how we support Misk’s wider mission of empowering youth to become the architects, not tenants, of the future economy, by unleashing their huge entrepreneurial potential.”

Sporting glory: How Saudi Arabia raised its game

Updated 27 min 35 sec ago

Sporting glory: How Saudi Arabia raised its game

  • The groundwork for today’s success was laid in the 1970s

DUBAI: Many Saudis look back on the 1970s as a time of unprecedented development when sport, along with other aspects of life in the Kingdom, enjoyed rapid growth.

A government push to improve sports organization and boost participation in international competitions led to Saudi Arabia making its Olympic debut at the 1972 Munich Games. It marked the first time the Saudi flag was raised at the opening ceremony, although the Kingdom had been part of the International Olympic Committee since 1965. Saudi Arabia also participated in the first Arabian Gulf Cup in 1970,  and made its debut at the Pan Arab Games in 1976 and at the Asian Games two years later.

Also in the 1970s, the Kingdom attracted foreign players to its football teams, including Brazil’s Roberto Rivellino, who played for Riyadh’s Al-Hilal.

Mohammed Al-Kharashy, a former manager of the Saudi national football team, told Arab News that in the 1970s, “there was a lot of funding to improve sports facilities to the highest level. More focus was put on international participation in football and many other sports.”

Although sport was part of Saudi culture, its official development can be traced back to Interior Minister Prince Abdullah bin Faisal Al-Saud, who created the Department of Sport in the Interior in 1952.


The first Saudis to represent the Kingdom at the Olympics

Men’s 100m Mansour Farhan Al-Gegd

Men’s 1,500m Naser Al-Safraa

Men’s 5,000m Abdallah Rouei Al-Mabrouk

Men’s 4 × 100m relay Mohammed Al-Dosary, Mansour Farhan Al-Gegd, Bilal Said, Saad Khalil Al-Dosary

Sporting development gained momentum with the introduction of the First Development Plan in 1970. A network of sports and athletics facilities was established along with recreational programs and sporting clubs for the Kingdom’s youth. These included federations for tennis, basketball, martial arts, handball, fencing, swimming, shooting and archery. The mandate of the General Presidency of Youth Welfare in 1974 was “to get as many people interested and involved in these activities as possible,” according to a statement published by the Saudi Embassy in the US.

While sporting standards in the Kingdom have improved dramatically, women’s participation is a more recent phenomenon. In 2003, the first women’s basketball team in Saudi Arabia was formed by Lina Al-Maeena. Three years later, she co-founded the Jeddah United Sporting Company, to encourage the development of female athletes; it now has a football club for women. In 2010, equestrian Dalma Rushdi Malhas became the first female athlete from Saudi Arabia to compete at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, winning a bronze medal.

Saudi Arabia sent its first women’s team to compete in the 2012 London Olympics. The team included Wojdan Shaherkani in judo and 800-meter runner Sarah Al-Attar. In 2016, Al-Attar, Lubna Al-Omair, Cariman Abu Al-Jadail and Wujud Fahmi represented Saudi Arabia at the Summer Games in Brazil.

In 2017, the Kingdom announced that public schools would begin offering physical education for girls as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reforms.