By Tamara Pupic
Event celebrated the biggest achievers and self-starters from the UAE’s growing start-up and SME sector
The best businesses, individuals and institutions from across the regional start-up ecosystem were honoured on Monday at the third annual Arabian Business StartUp Awards.
More than 300 people, including this year’s 70 Arabian Business StartUp Awards finalists, attended a special gala dinner at the Ritz-Carlton DIFC hotel.
Each of the 14 categories featured five nominees previously shortlisted by the judging panel out of nearly 700 nominations received. This year’s judging panel included representatives from ITP Executive management and the Arabian Business editorial team.
The winner and nominees were also treated to a speech from a special guest speaker – Ashish Thakkar, an entrepreneur and philanthropist often referred to as ‘Africa's youngest billionaire’.
Thakkar is the founder of Mara Group, a vast business empire which operates in 22 African countries, and also the newly-appointed chair of the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council.
The coveted 15th trophy, representing the Special Recognition Award, was presented to Shahla Ahmed Abdul Razak, the deputy CEO of Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, highlighting the efforts the organisation has undertaken to build the local start-up, SME and entrepreneurial community.
The big award of the night – Start-up of the Year – was presented to Fetchr, a Dubai-based start-up which has developed an app whose patented technology allows users to schedule parcel pickup and delivery using mobile phone GPS coordinates.
Not only is it the first of its kind app for the Middle East region, but the first Silicon Valley funded app to have been launched in the region.
The winner of the SME of the Year was Compareit4me, a Dubai-based price comparison site for financial products, which was praised by the judges for its rapid growth and geographical expansion into eight regional markets since its launch in Dubai in 2011.
The Entrepreneur of the Year award was presented to Craig Moore, founder and chief executive officer of Beehive, an online marketplace for peer-to-peer (P2P) finance, who is already a well-known supporter of local SMEs.
Beehive has helped channel AED25 million ($6.8 million) of funding to 48 local SMEs. The company has also become the first P2P platform in the world to be granted a Sharia compliance certificate.
A 20-year-old serial entrepreneur, Mohamed Amine Belarbi, won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Some of the other coveted trophies on the night – SME Businesswomen of the Year and SME Businessman of the Year – went to Elissa Freiha and Chantalle Dumonceaux, co-founders of WOMENA, and Sam Whittam, founder of Adventure HQ, respectively.
The woman at the helm of the Sharjah Business Women Council, Her Excellency Ameera Abdelrahim Binkaram, won the award for Mentor of the Year.
The Start-up Programme of the Year award was presented to the team of AstroLabs, a Google-powered tech hub, while the Innovation of the Year went to Aschkan Abdul Malek and Sajjad Kamal for AlemHealth.
FGB was named as the best bank and received the revered SME Bank of the Year award.
Ramez Mohamed, CEO of Flat6Labs, collected the Incubator / Accelerator of the Year award, for this Abu Dhabi-based accelerator.
Laundrybox was named as the winner of the Digital Business of the Year category, while the newly-established Deal of the Year award was presented to the team behind Dubizzle.
Last, but not least, the very first award of our new award category – Social Business of the Year – was presented to Genny Ghanimeh, the founder of Pi Slice, a Dubai-based online micro-lending platform.
With a business model built around solving many social problems, Ghanimeh and her team have already supported and financed 200 micro-entrepreneurs. That was achieved with the support of six corporate partners and 1,300 lenders on the platform, who funded collectively a total of $400,000.
The StartUp Awards were held in partnership with Dubai Chamber, Dubai Silicon Oasis, RAK Free Trade Zone, Canadian University in Dubai, Telr, Noor Bank and Skyline University.
Full list of winners:
Social Business of the Year: Pi Slice
Deal of the Year: Dubizzle
Digital Business of the Year: Laundrybox
Incubator / Accelerator of the Year: Flat6Labs
SME Bank of the Year: First Gulf Bank
Innovation of the Year: AlemHealth
Start-Up Programme of the Year: AstroLabs
Mentor of the Year: H.E Ameera Binkaram, Sharjah Businesswomen Council
Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Mohamed Amine Belarbi
SME Businessman of the Year: Sam Whittam, Adventure HQ
SME Businesswomen of the Year: Elissa Freiha and Chantalle Dumonceaux, WOMENA
Entrepreneur of the Year: Craig Moore, Beehive
SME of the Year: Jon Richards, Compareit4me
Start-Up of the Year: Joy Aljouny, Fetchr
Special Recognition Award: Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority