Saturday , January 16 2021

Three industries to look at in the fastest growing startup ecosystems of the Arab world

DUBAI: Bahrain and the UAE city of Sharjah offer the best Middle East ecosystems for startups in the fields of financial technology (fintech), education technology (edtech) and digital media, according to advisory policy and research organization Startup Genome.

Both sites are ranked in the top five fastest growing start-up ecosystems in the global activation phase, which means founders can “build on local strengths and develop focused programs to accelerate ecosystem growth and develop pockets of success.” which will lead to large outputs. “

The Global Initial Ecosystem Report – which tracked more than 1.27 million companies from over 250 ecosystems – recognizes support for startups offering these two ecosystems in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).

Both Bahrain and Sharia have launched small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) incentive programs, either through grants without capital or exemptions from a number of fees.

Thanks to its standards of public finance and open banking, Bahrain leads the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region as an ecosystem with fintech technology. The regulatory sandbox operated by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) allows players to test new concepts before they go public – perhaps an indication of why the island nation hosts 90 active and diverse startups.

“Bahrain has established itself as an innovative fintech hub, home to regulations designed to enable and encourage entrepreneurship,” said Ibrahim Jananahi, chief executive of the Tamkin Labor Fund.

A recent success is Fawcett, a sand company from CBB that offers global investors digital clues to fractional investment in sustainable infrastructure. Currently in beta phase, its veneer exchange (FEX) aims to deal with tokens – essentially digital coins – that are backed by virtual currencies such as bitcoin and ethereum, as well as real-world assets such as what is gold.

“To date, access to digital assets – whether cryptocurrencies or real estate tokens – has been a difficult process in the MENASA region (MENA and South Asia),” said Fasset CEO Mohamed Raafi Hosseini.

“FEX delivers to the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) the accessibility, diversity and ease of use that increasingly characterize digital asset markets elsewhere in the world. “It is our belief that every investor should have a healthy, risk-assessed distribution of digital assets.”

Co-founder of “Storm”, Mashal Vakar (L) and co-founder and CEO of “Lumofi Ahmed Faraj” (R). (Delivered)

The move follows the launch of Rain, the first cryptocurrency exchange in the Gulf. Startups are profiting from the global virtual currency market forecast of $ 1.48 billion by 2025, growing at an annual rate of 6 percent over the next five years.

One of the most visibly affected sectors lately is the media, where traditional business models are hard hit.

Against this background, several startups have established themselves to serve niche audiences, such as Tempest, defined as “the next generation of women media company.” Founded in 2016, the startup was admitted to the acceleration program run by Sheraa, an incubator based in Sharia.

“The best part of the program was the mentoring aspect and the opportunities you will get as a startup once you are part of the Sheraa ecosystem,” said Tempest co-founder Mashal Vakar.

“They have created such a supportive and encouraging environment that has enabled us to work through the business side and the revenue of things and to harmonize our sales process.”

Startup Genome has identified Sharia as a hub for digital startup media, with two dedicated free zones. In the meantime, Sheraa has run programs dedicated to book and digital content investments. Overall, the digital content market is expected to expand by 18.7 percent in 2020, with growth of $ 519.83 billion over the five years to 2024, according to market research firm Tehnavio.

Whether caring for schoolchildren or adults who want to thrive, technology education companies have been in high demand for their services since the advent of KOVID-19.

Globally, Edtek startups raised $ 4.8 billion in 2020, or more venture capital investment in the first nine months of the year than in 2019, according to market intelligence firm CB Insights. The sector is on track to set a new record this year.

Overall, the edtech and smart classroom market will double in the next five years, growing 16 percent year on year from $ 85.8 billion in 2020 to $ 183.3 billion in 2025.

Based in Bahrain, Lumofi is among the regional players at the top of the starting class in recent months. The e-learning solution provider has helped accelerate the digital transformation for the country’s corporations and institutions since the KOVID-19 epidemic, starting with a free two-month subscription to the portal’s products.

Co-founder and CEO Ahmed Faraj said: “The KOVID-19 situation has allowed us to witness a major change in the way we view the relationship between technology and education.

“The shift to the digital world is accelerating and we as innovators have the adaptability to allow corporations, institutions and government entities to move quickly with our toolkit.”


The report was published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Stock Exchange, which launched the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiative to reflect the vision of the UAE Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of a change in status. of the Arab region.

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