Wamda, Expo 2020 unveil start-up collaboration

Collaborative Entrepreneurship – a MENA-wide platform to connect leading corporations with regional entrepreneurs – will be officially launched at a summit in May 2016, following today’s meeting
Wamda, Expo 2020 unveil start-up collaboration
By Tamara Pupic
Tue 19 Jan 2016 11:47 AM

A new partnership between Wamda and Dubai Expo 2020 aimed at facilitating cooperation between larger corporations and start-ups across the MENA region will kick off with a workshop in Dubai today.

Collaborative Entrepreneurship – a MENA-wide platform to connect leading corporations with regional entrepreneurs – will be officially launched at a summit in May 2016, following today’s meeting of a select group of MENA-based corporations and start-ups.

The participants of today’s meeting will look into an insights report of a full Wamda Research Lab report, which will be published later this month, prepared on the basis of interviews with more than 120 business leaders and a survey conducted amongst over 800 start-ups in the Middle East region.

The aim of today’s meeting is to explore the research outcomes, validate the suggested partnership models, and offer insights into how the business community can help implement the findings, Wamda has reported.

Habib Haddad, founding CEO of Wamda, commenting on the study's preliminary findings, said: "Although MENA's ecosystem has grown rapidly in the past 5 years, one of the most common obstacles to start-ups remains access to markets, the kind of access that large corporates have been able to build over years. However, those large corporates are good at replicating a predictable business model, not at coping with the rapid tech changes and innovating around it. This is how the idea of merging the start-up and corporate world emerged.

“When looking deeper at the data, we found that both parties have a strong interest to work with each other but no proper mechanisms are in place. 90 percent of corporations said they see value in working with startups while the majority of startups said they were ready to make significant changes to their business to land a deal with a large corporation.”

Upon its official launch in May, prominent business leaders and start-up founders from across the region will be invited to join the initiative.

Launched during the Celebration of Entrepreneurship in Dubai in 2010, Wamda is an entrepreneurship ecosystem enabler for the MENA region. It is chaired by Fadi Ghandour, Aramex founder, while Habib Haddad is the platform’s founding CEO.

Fadi Ghandour has also co-founded Wamda Capital, an investment vehicle which includes Mena Venture Investments, an early stage angel investment network, and Wamda MENA Ventures I, a $75 million regional investment fund. The second fund was set up in June 2015 to address an emerging equity funding gap for growth stage start-ups in the region.

Speaking at the launch of Sheraa - The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre based at the American University of Sharjah – earlier this week, Ghandour was reported as saying that Wamda Capital had invested 40 per cent of its first phase funding in 11 companies ahead of schedule. Their investments include stakes in Careem, Mumzworld, Jamalon, and News Group International.

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