Riyadh: This week, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) announced a partnership with PepsiCo and AstroLabs as one its efforts to enhance Saudi Arabia position as a regional hub of digital businesses and a destination for entrepreneurship.

PepsiCo — one of the leading global food and beverage manufacturers — celebrated the success of its ‘Scale Up Accelerator’ program. Showcasing the achievements of the program’s participants, the event spotlighted the growth of entrepreneurship in the Kingdom, calling attention to Saudi Arabia’s development as a thriving SME hub.

The closing ceremony for the Scale Up Accelerator program was held at the Riyadh Hilton, bringing entrepreneurs, investors, and government officials — together to mark the contributions of the innovative offering to the evolution of the local SME space.

The program, sponsored by the PepsiCo Foundation, the philanthropic arm of PepsiCo, set out to unlock the full potential of Saudi SMEs by enabling the transformation of local businesses into E-commerce fronts.  the program selected 103 participants out of 250+ applications based on the potential of their business, the uniqueness of their offerings, and the diversity of their demographic. The PepsiCo Foundation also leveraged its resources to support young entrepreneurs and further enable them to transform their business vision into successful business ventures.

Program participants hailed from key cities including Riyadh, Jeddah, and Mecca, as well as other regions across the Kingdom.

The diverse range of participants were all specialized in a wide variety of industries and fields, including the artisanal and gifts sector (37 participants), beauty and wellness (29), retail (12), fashion (9), food and beverage (8), and service providers (7).

The accelerator was uniquely designed to generate direct impact for all participating SMEs. While many SMEs had already launched their first E-commerce website, highlights from the top 40 participants reflected promising digitization and entrepreneurship. 80 digital marketing campaigns were launched, 30 new websites were built, and 30 new business models were introduced to exhibit a 10% revenue growth for more than half of the cohort's top 40.

Aamer Sheikh, Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo – Middle East, said: “Having been present in the Kingdom for more than 60 years, we have seen the country grow in leaps and bounds. Steered by Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has crossed milestone after milestone on its journey of transformation, and — driven by local talent, innovation and national agendas — is poised to make even more headway. As ever, we aim to play a part in guiding the Kingdom forward and believe the Scale Up Accelerator program will be key in doing just that. Supported by AstroLabs and MCIT, we have already empowered over 100 entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. We congratulate these budding changemakers on their success and are already casting our eyes to the future and the next cohort of entrepreneurs we will be supporting on the program.”

Roland Daher, Chief Executive Officer, AstroLabs, said: ''For more than a decade, our mission has been building self-sustaining ecosystems and driving the growth of the digital economy through impactful programs. Our unwavering commitment to advancing the prospects of the local market and elevating it to global standards has been at the core of our success. Our partnership with PepsiCo and MCIT is a testament to this commitment, and the Scale Up Accelerator program has contributed in establishing Saudi Arabia as a vibrant hub of digitally-enabled businesses and a regional standard for entrepreneurial spirit. We are immensely proud of this partnership, which we believe will have a lasting impact on promoting entrepreneurial excellence, as demonstrated by the hard work and achievements of the program's participants.'

Mohammed Alrobayan, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology said: “As the global business landscape continues to be shaped by digital transformation, it is essential that we lay the foundations for the pillars of a digital strategy to enable a connected present and an innovative future. Building a digital infrastructure with international standards that enables innovative talents to realize their potential and succeed in the modern world of business and work is of the utmost importance. Recognizing this, we launched our partnership with PepsiCo and AstroLabs to empower the Kingdom’s entrepreneurs. Having supported more than 100 participants to gain new skills and benefit from crucial insights, I am delighted to say that — with offerings like the Scale Up Accelerator program — the Kingdom is primed for lasting success.”

Launched in partnership with AstroLabs, an ecosystem builder in the MENA region, and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT), the Scale Up Accelerator program was established to empower entrepreneurs across the Kingdom to fulfill the potential of their businesses.

Aligned with the goals of Vision 2030, the strategic partnership marked the latest step taken by PepsiCo and AstroLabs to equip young Saudi entrepreneurs and businesses with the tools to grow and attain sustainable success.

MCIT also provided all-important guidance through its “Digital Perks Program”. Hosted at the Center of Digital Entrepreneurship (CODE), the program was created to accelerate the adoption of technology and entrepreneurial culture, contributing to vital job creation and localization technologies.

In line with Vision 2030 and PepsiCo’s ‘Proudly Saudi’ campaign — an initiative launched to underline the brand’s dedication to serving the Kingdom — the innovative accelerator program reiterates the food and beverage company’s commitment to aiding the country’s transformation into a world-class investment destination.

To learn more about the Scale Up Accelerator program, please visit:

https://astrolabs.com/pepsico-scaleup/

About PepsiCo

PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers more than one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than US$70 billion in net revenue in 2020, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker, and Tropicana. PepsiCo's product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 23 brands that generate more than US$1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.

Guiding PepsiCo is our vision to Be the Global Leader in Convenient Foods and Beverages by Winning with Purpose. "Winning with Purpose" reflects our ambition to win sustainably in the marketplace and embed purpose into all aspects of the business.  For more information, visit www.pepsico.com.

About AstroLabs:

AstroLabs is a technology ecosystem builder that enables the growth of people, companies, and innovation capacities on a regional level. With 10 years of active building in MENA and a vibrant community across 3 coworking spaces in the UAE & KSA, AstroLabs is MENA’s trusted partner in solving the innovation challenges of tomorrow by navigating the technology landscapes of today.

Partnering with key industry shapers, including governmental entities, corporates & enterprises, and the entrepreneurial ecosystem, AstroLabs designs and facilitates digital transformations through business expansion and market entry operations, effective upskilling, entrepreneurial,  and innovation programs, as well as value-focused talent recruitment practices.