Entrepreneurs Wanted! Apply Now to the Region’s Biggest Startup Competitions

I’ve been around the digital startup ecosystem for several years now. I had the privilege to participate in the mentoring and coaching processes of many of the startups as well as taking part in several jury panels.

One thing is certain along the process, many people will fail. This does not mean that they did not try their best, or that they had a bad product. But, in a competitive environment, a selection process takes place, and only a handful of people make it to the next level. This is mainly due to innovation, good perception of the product, hard work, perseverance and of course the right business plan.

Synkers is an app that helps students find a qualified and affordable tutor on the spot. Synkers was part of the Speed@BDD Batch II program.

Innovation does not always mean cables and wires. Yes, technology is a big factor in determining the innovativeness of a product, but this has become a given nowadays, technology is the engine to our everyday life.

Innovation is pushing products and businesses beyond the comfort zone. It is about creating new solutions, revolutionizing old ones and filling specific needs. All that, while positively changing people’s perception of the product and having a good impact on the business model.

Unless you have enough funding to kickoff your own start up, you’re gonna need professional support on different fronts: financial, technical, creative, user experience and business. Hence, the startup acceleration and incubation programs.

There are plenty of programs out there. I will be shedding more light on them in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime here are two respected programs you can immediately apply to as they are calling for applicants.

MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition

The MIT EF Arab Startup Competition is one of the large entrepreneurship competitions in the MENA region. It targets 21 Arab countries and receives over 6,000 applications every year. The competition engages entrepreneurs in top-notch training, mentorship, and provides media exposure and networking opportunities and gives out up to $160,000 in prize money. The competition has trained over 1,600 entrepreneurs and has created over 250 knowledge-based jobs.

The 10th edition of the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition is done in partnership with Community Jameel and Zain Group. It was launched on October 17, 2016 and you can apply on their website. The deadline for submitting applications is on January 4, 2017.

Picture from the 8th MIT EF Arab Startup Competition-Kuwait April 2015

Seventy semi-finalist teams will be announced in February 2017 and will be invited to attend pre-bootcamp activities scheduled to take place in February and March, 2017 in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and the UAE, followed by a four-day event in Bahrain from April 24-27, 2017


Speed@BDD is a Beirut-based startup accelerator that invests cash in top-tier companies in the MENA region. It accepts startups at the idea and early stage and selects 20 startups per year over two cycles of three months each. Selected teams will have to commit full time and move to Beirut for the duration of the acceleration.

Speed@BDD is a collaborative effort between Bader, Berytech, IM Capital, Lebanon for Entrepreneurs, Middle East Venture Partners

You can apply on their website. The deadline for submitting applications is on January 22, 2017.

Good luck 🙂


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