Under the patronage of the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, H.E. Zayed R. Alzayani deputized Undersecretary of Industry Affairs Mr. Osama Alarrayedh to launch the first regional Seedstars MENA Summit at CH9. The Summit is organized by Swiss-based startup competition for emerging markets Seedstars World and business accelerator CH9 in strategic partnership with Bahrain EDB and Tamkeen. The Summit is the culmination of Seedstars’ work aimed at developing the MENA entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout the year in 10 countries.

On this occasion Undersecretary of Industry Affairs delivered a speech on behalf of the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism stating that “the Kingdom of Bahrain has made sustained efforts towards creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that is best in the region and has at its core simplification of procedures, handholding, funding support, incubation and partnership amongst stakeholders besides strong protection of intellectual property. Entrepreneurs are assisted at each step of the investment life cycle from opportunity identification, business plan preparation, project appraisal, validation till implementation.”
He added that “the Bahrain model of entrepreneurship development has been adopted by United Nations Industrial Development Organization as “UNIDO Enterprise Development & Investment Promotion program” and is currently implemented in forty-eight countries from Uruguay to China.”

He confirmed that “the vision of our Leadership places the private sector at the forefront of economic development and private sector investments form an important component of our competitiveness and growth strategy. Entrepreneurship has been a long tradition in Bahrain and indeed in the entire gulf region which has been a trading hub for centuries. Our efforts are directed at creating business regulations that provide a level playing field and strong investor protection essential to a thriving private sector. We also encourage setting up of more business incubators and accelerators in Kingdom of Bahrain to facilitate launch of new startups with world class potential.
Bahrain is the place for motivated entrepreneurs who challenge themselves and have a desire to be global players to launch their startups.”

Seedstars MENA Summit brought together startups from Tunisia, Egypt, UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Algeria to pitch in front of an audience of 200 entrepreneurial representatives, investors and media.

Alisée de Tonnac, CEO & founder Seedstars World remarked that “after 4 years of visiting, collaborating and investing in different startup ecosystems across the world, we have realised that seed stage startups need more than just capital.
Access to market, technical support, and training to scale their business are as fundamental to their success and we at Seedstars have launched the first Growth program this edition to support these finalists in getting to the next level”.

Supporting the development of the startup ecosystem in Bahrain, Mohamed Altawash, Founder & Managing Director of CH9 affirmed that “MENA itself has many entrepreneurs and I hope that more great startups from GCC will represent MENA region at the Global Summit in Switzerland. We are excited to have an amazing network and we are open to providing any support to startups from Bahrain, GCC and MENA”.

Earlier in September 2016, Seedstars held its first local event in Bahrain — Seedstars GCC, which attracted interest from more than 200 attendees and brought together entrepreneurs from the GCC. From a pool of 65 startup applicants, Seedstars World experts and jury selected a shortlist of 15 startups, including Gulf CX, PriceJugaad, and Tamarran Sports Online Service from Bahrain. Exceptionally, the winners were 2 Seedstars GCC first place startups this year; Meddy from Qatar, and Democrance from the UAE.

Vivian Jamal, Executive Director at the Bahrain EDB, commented on the conference: “This summit has demonstrated the wealth of talent that exists across the region and effectively highlighted the importance of supporting and developing our startups. Bahrain has worked hard to create a supportive ecosystem that allows aspiring entrepreneurs to test their ideas in a business-friendly environment. Organizations such as the EDB, Tamkeen and CH9 provide mentoring and funding for SMEs and the government is introducing new laws and policies to safeguard their rights. We hope to see many more competitions like Seedstars World in the future, and give entrepreneurs that all-important platform to connect with the wider business community.”

Prior to the Conference, Seedstars hosted a 2-day Bootcamp for all winners from the 2016 Seedstars World competition across MENA, who worked with world-class local and international mentors on improving their business models, working on their growth strategy, and mastering the investor pitch. Mentors and investors came from Africa, Europe, the US, and the MENA region.

The MENA Regional Summit culminated with a Conference and Pitch event on December 15th that featured the startup pitches, keynotes, and panel discussions. The conference showcased success stories of entrepreneurs who scaled successfully and looked into the success factors as well as the elements that needed improvement in order to allow a MENA startup compete on a global stage.

All of the startups will travel to the Global Summit in Switzerland on April 6, 2017, to represent their region, as they compete with 65 startup winners from around the world for investments and prizes over $500K.

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