Christine Souffrant, a Dubai-based Haitian-American social entrepreneur, has decided to support her fellow entrepreneurs by inviting them to take part in an online accelerator programme for free.
100 MENA Start-Ups, an online start-up accelerator she recently launched, offers to aspiring entrepreneurs live webinar workshops, one-to-one coaching sessions, and an opportunity to participate in a digital demo day and deliver a virtual pitch to a group of investors.
Souffrant, our latest Entrepreneur of the Week, adds that the inaugural launch programme is free for the first 100 MENA-based start-ups that apply for the summer 2016 batch.
Souffrant is the founder of Vendedy, a digital start-up that connects street vendors from developing countries with customers looking to buy authentic and often handmade products.
The start-up was launched in 2014 while Souffrant was studying for a master’s degree in international business and social entrepreneurship at Hult International Business School in Dubai.
“We have been called many things depending on who you talk to,” Souffrant explains. “Travellers say we are the Yelp for street markets. Consumers say we are the Birchbox of street markets, and vendors say that we are just a home for street market enthusiasts.
“Whatever the association, Vendedy aims to digitize the $10 trillion street market economy and make it accessible to all.”
Souffrant is also the managing director of Startup Grind Dubai, a local chapter of this Google for Entrepreneurs-powered global entrepreneurial community active in more than 200 countries.
She has delivered talks on leadership, disruptive entrepreneurship and tech social impact innovation at the United Nations, TEDx, and conferences held in Trinidad, Haiti, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, New York, San Francisco, Russia, Romania, Miami, and more.
When asked for her best piece of advice for first-time start-up founders, she says: “Always test the basics of your company before spending huge funds on building an app or a product that no one wants.
“In other words, don't create something just to join the hype!
“Many investors and partners are amazed at how much I was able to do with small amounts of money. They have met so many start-up founders burn through so much cash to do half of what we launched with Vendedy.
“There is a big hype to jump onto the start-up bandwagon in the MENA region, causing a lot of people to create products with tons of personal funds, pay for office space, and join expensive accelerators just to say they have a start-up.
“It’s not worth it. Be frugal and think strategically.”
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