Aramco's arm, Wa’ed, gives $2.71mln to startups in first stop of Saudi roadshow

The next Wa’ed Entrepreneurship Roadshow will be on September 21 in Yanbu

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. Saudi riyals.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Saudi riyals.

Gettyimages/ imran kadir photography
 
RIYADH: A total of SR10.2 million ($2.71 million) has been given in grants and loans to six local startups in the first of Wa’ed’s six stops on its nationwide roadshow. The first group of winners include a maker of radioisotopes, used in medical imaging technology, and a company that converts used cooking oil into biofuels for use in diesel cars.

Wa’ed, the entrepreneurship arm of Aramco, began a six-city national roadshow in Jubail on Monday to fund the Kingdom’s best new startups. The roadshows bring an element of Shark’s Tank TV show to Saudi Arabia with a top local TV personality bringing an air of excitement and competition to the selection of winning entrepreneurs.

Wa’ed roadshows will also be held this year in Yanbu, Jeddah, Riyadh, Madinah and Makkah. Wa’ed is selecting Saudi-based entrepreneurs for loans, incubation services and venture capital investment. The roadshows are being hosted by Mohammed Almousa, a Saudi entrepreneur and broadcast presenter for MBC television.

“The startups we recognize tonight in Jubail are part of a new wave of Saudi-based entrepreneurs who are driving economic growth and diversification in the Kingdom,” said Fahad Alidi, Wa’ed managing director.

Created as a wholly owned venture of Aramco in 2011, Wa’ed has helped drive growth of the Kingdom’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by deploying more than SR 400 million in venture capital investment, loans and incubation services into more than 100 Saudi-based startups.

The Jubail roadshow highlighted industrial manufacturing and services and drew entrepreneurs from a range of fields. The event was sponsored by The Royal Commission for Jubail & Yanbu, which oversees the Kingdom’s largest industrial zone.

Future roadshows will focus on drones, security technology, reverse engineering, petrochemicals, environmental tech, fintech, supply chains, tourism and hospitality, among other sectors.

Entrepreneurs recommended for loans and incubation support must pass Wa’ed background checks. The next Wa’ed Entrepreneurship Roadshow will be on Sept. 21 in Yanbu.

Wa’ed Entrepreneurship Roadshow recommended loans be issued to:

  • Ahmad Alkhowaiter, the first Saudi producer of a ubiquitous oil and gas drilling compound;
  • Motlaq Almotairy, founder of Saudi’s first radioisotopes firm;
  • Abdullah Al Otaibi, the founder of a company that converts used cooking oils into biofuels.

Wa’ed also recommended incubation seed funding grants to:

  • Nawaf Alabra, founder of a new-generation B2B platform;
  • Ahmed Abdulmohsen, founder of a business software maker that manages infrastructure, buildings and lighting;
  • Muhannad Alhamed, founder of a smart home automation solutions maker based on IoT.

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