|21 October, 2019

UAE leads the pack: Investors boost start-up funding in region

Middle East's youthful demographic, tech-savvy population, and high Internet and smartphone penetration rates have created a fertile ground for technology entrepreneurship

An employee counts U.S. dollar bills at a money exchange office in central Cairo, Egypt, March 20, 2019. Image for illustrative purposes.

An employee counts U.S. dollar bills at a money exchange office in central Cairo, Egypt, March 20, 2019. Image for illustrative purposes.

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Investors have increased funding levels for startups, showing that the private sector is starting to grasp the importance of supporting entrepreneurship, said Samer Choucair, director, CE-Creates.

The firm has grouped its strategy into four stages covering concept development, business plan development, incubation, and growth. CE-Creates has so far assessed around 40 projects, of which three are fully operational businesses today, and five are under development.

"CE-Creates is our internal venture building platform, designed to develop early-stage concepts into financially feasible businesses that can also deliver sustainable social impact. We started CE-Creates as early as 2015, with the aim of supporting and developing the entrepreneurial culture within Crescent Enterprises, and in the belief that good ideas can come from anywhere within the organisation," said Choucair.

The Middle East's youthful demographic, tech-savvy population, and high Internet and smartphone penetration rates have created a fertile ground for technology entrepreneurship, with the UAE being at the forefront of this revolution.

Choucair said: "We are seeing a strong focus on emerging technologies, such as big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the Internet of Things in the UAE; and start-ups are looking to leverage these technologies to redefine how businesses can enhance processes, increase efficiency, and deliver superior customer experiences. For instance, Dubai's Blockchain Strategy will create an open platform to use the technology with other cities across the globe - moving the focus around blockchain away from bitcoin and on to the true promise of distributed ledger technology. This is providing startups here in the UAE with enormous opportunities to grow their business."

The UAE's strong focus on digital transformation in the government sector is also leading to advantages for the private sector. The government's digital interactions with individuals and businesses is a strong driver of the overall happiness quotient of the nation and its residents.

Saad Abdallah, manager, CE-Creates, said: "At CE-Creates, we operate with a conscious ambition to turn specific challenges that exist in our communities into opportunities. We look to develop early-stage concepts into viable businesses that generate sustainable social impact, while aiming for potential scale, profitability and measurable impact."

He added: "We look upon CE-Creates as being as much a laboratory for social entrepreneurship as it is generating the next phase of operating businesses for Crescent Enterprises - if a business doesn't have a defined social compass in its operations, it will miss out on a lot of opportunities. Accordingly, when we look at potential concepts to support, they must always have a defined societal, and preferably environmental purpose."

 
 
 

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