At a time when the Gulf’s entrepreneurial ecosystems are more interconnected than ever, the MITEF Arab Startup Competition is becoming an ever more important source of support for new ideas in the region. Organised in collaboration with Community Jameel and the King Abdullah University of Science &Technology (KAUST), the event will consist of three tracks focusing on startups, ideas and social entrepreneurship.
Bahrain’s startup scene is expanding at a rapid pace and includes companies within software development, eCommerce, cyber-security, health, and FinTech. And now, out of more than 4,000 applications received from across the Arab world, expert judges have selected four new Bahrain-based firms from a diverse range of industries to go forward in the semi-finals.
Each application was reviewed by three judges on criteria including team strength, innovation, financial sustainability, and scalability. Read on to find out more about the startups selected.
Dalooni is a mobile app-based platform that connects businesses to a sales force of everyday individuals – paying commission instead of a salary. Hussain Haji, co-founder and CEO, had this to say on Dalooni’s selection as a MITEF Arab Startup Competition semi-finalist: “Bahrain has become a great launchpad for startups to prove their concepts, and with the significant role of many regulatory and support bodies like the Economic Development Board, Tamkeen, and others we were able to reach to what we have today. The fact that we are semi-finalists on the Arab Startup competition along side another Bahrain-based startup is proof that Bahrain is a great hub to host a startup, and support it in terms of scaling outwards.”
Honey Flow Africa
Using IoT technology, Honey Flow Africa aims to combat issues for beekeepers ranging from parasite infestations to changing climates. The firm produces hive monitors which remotely transmit data in real-time, offering at-a-glance information such as temperature, weight, humidity, sound and foraging activity. While the startup was founded in Nigeria, it joined the third cycle of Brinc – a Bahrain-based accelerator providing growth opportunities for firms in the IoT space. Honey Flow Africa now plans to grow its subscriber base across the GCC, with expansion plans including the opening of new offices throughout the region.
Beanboat – which empowers coffee farmers with increased market access through an online sales platform – counts transparency and benefit to the consumer among its key values. With offices in Bahrain and Colombia, the focus is firmly on fair trade. Founder Saleh Sharif said: “It’s a great opportunity for our startup to be shortlisted and be given a platform to showcase our business model and what we are trying to achieve with Beanboat, and to represent Bahrain and the growing social entrepreneurial spirit within it internationally is a great honor for our team. The ecosystem in Bahrain is growing steadily. We were blessed to be exposed to mentors and advisers who truly help startups such as ours to make mindful decisions that help us make the best of our resources.”
This startup works with corporates to build out employee incentive programmes focusing on the health and wellbeing sector in a bid to discourage sedentary lifestyles. Sandra Knight, Chief Operating Officer & Co Founder of Hayatech, said her firm illustrates the importance of creating impact through purpose. Speaking about the benefits of doing business in the Kingdom, she said: “Our journey as founders and as a startup has undoubtedly been empowered by the Bahrain ecosystem. We acknowledge that our path towards growth and success will continue to be influenced by the valued partnerships we build with industry and ecosystem stakeholders. It is through our focus on impact and purpose, that we seek to unlock sustainable value creation and remain at the forefront of connected, technology-enabled wellness”
As part of the next phase of the MITEF Arab Startup Competition, all 40 global semi-finalists – including the four Bahraini startups – will take part in a boot camp at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.
This will help participants to fine-tune their business models and pitching skills before a grand final in April in front of prominent industry leaders and judges.
We wish the Bahraini startups the best of luck and look forward to following their progress throughout the competition!