Developing the creative economy will be the focus of ZGI’s next chapters, says Al Roudhan

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KUWAIT CITY, Sept 12: Zain recently hosted its distinguished ZGI Demo Day ceremony, the most decisive phase of the company’s award-winning Zain Great Idea tech startup accelerator program. During the event, startup owners from the program’s 7th season showcased their regional expansion plans and strategic roadmaps in front of venture capital firms and potential business partners from local and regional companies.

The ceremony was attended by Zain Kuwait CEO Eaman Al Roudhan, Malek Hammoud, Zain Group’s Chief Investment & Digital Officer, the company’s executive management team, ambassadors and diplomats, ZGI alumni, representatives from the private and public sectors, and numerous guests from the local and regional business communities.

The event featured an insightful panel discussion titled Startup Funding Landscape in MENA: What Investors Are Looking For, joined by Malek Hammoud, Zain Group’s Chief Investment & Digital Officer; Fajer Saleh Alpachachi, General Manager of Hope Ventures, the investment arm of Hope Fund, Bahrain; Dakhil Al Dakhil, CEO of Rasameel Investment Company; and Mohammed Al Munifi, Associate at Faith Capital Holding.

During her opening speech, Eaman Al Roudhan said: “I welcome our esteemed guests from the local and regional entrepreneurial communities and representatives of capital investment funds and business partners. Hosting such an exceptional gathering of inspirational minds from across the Arab world is clear evidence of ZGI’s leadership and maturity: it has truly become a force of attraction in the space of entrepreneurship.”

Al Roudhan added: “It gives me great pride that, for 13 years, our innovative program proved itself on the regional landscape as one of the top destinations that attract entrepreneurs to accelerate their startups and enter the highly competitive regional market.”

“Earlier this year, ZGI was named Ecosystem Enabler of the Year in the Region by the prestigious Entrepreneur Middle East magazine. This award recognized the program’s leadership in promoting a vibrant tech startup acceleration ecosystem. It also attested to Zain’s endless efforts to empower Kuwaiti entrepreneurs, accelerate hundreds of startups, and embrace thousands of aspiring minds for 13 years.” The CEO continued.

Al Roudhan further noted: “Today, Zain Great Idea is more than just a startup accelerator. It has become a comprehensive ecosystem for entrepreneurs, idea owners, and investors, regardless of the size of their business. This ecosystem embraces a large family of inspirational minds who work as individuals or owners of profitable, sustainable businesses that employ hundreds and even thousands, with millions of dollars in funds.”

Al Roudhan shed light on the program’s latest season: “With the 7th season that kicked-off in September 2022, ZGI continued on its core mission, but grew in its vision, and expanded its programs to new horizons. With it, we opened a bridge to connect aspiring entrepreneurs to the biggest destinations that target business owners in the region, which witnesses accelerating changes and maturity.”

“Our members gained rich experiences in these destinations, which included three of the biggest incubating ecosystems and leaders of creativity and innovation in the Arab World: Dubai, Riyadh, and Cairo. I’m sure that this experience added a huge value to their businesses and to them as people, while giving them countless opportunities to connect with those who share the same passion.” Al Roudhan added.

The CEO concluded by saying: “At the end of every ZGI season, we take great care to review our latest experience and reevaluate our goals. Continuous growth is behind every successful project, and our gathering today gives us a platform to listen to what you have to say and help us learn and grow the outcomes of this program. ZGI’s next chapter will focus on developing the creative economy, and we’re excited for the road ahead.”

The ZGI Demo Day is the program’s most decisive phase, as it culminates the hard work, effort, and passion of 28 Kuwaiti entrepreneurs whose businesses excelled in the market’s most vibrant industries during the program’s 7th season. The ZGI members showcased their regional expansion plans and strategic roadmaps in front of venture capital firms and potential business partners from local and regional companies, giving them an invaluable opportunity to grow and expand their businesses.

During their journey, the entrepreneurs took part in three regional accelerator programs in Dubai, Riyadh, and Cairo, in which they were exposed to rich experiences that helped them expand their businesses and serve the needs of the market, not just locally, but regionally as well. At Demo Day, each entrepreneur had their own stall to showcase their business and outline their roadmap to potential partners.

Zain learned a lot from previous seasons and heard what ZGI alumni had to say about how to further refine the program year after year. And so, this season, the company offered greater flexibility and more freedom for every participant to take part in the sessions and programs that best suited their schedule and unique business needs.

In preparation for the new ZGI chapter, Zain and Sabah Al Ahmad Center for Giftedness and Creativity (a KFAS center) announced that they will be the official Kuwait Country Partners of Beban, the regional entrepreneur reality TV show, joining forces to include and enable Kuwaiti entrepreneurs’ participation in the upcoming third season of the show which will air in January 2024.

Through Beban, Zain and SACGC will offer 40 Kuwaiti entrepreneurs the opportunity to undergo an intensive 2-week training bootcamp at the Zain Innovation Campus (ZINC). During the bootcamp, entrepreneurs will be provided with insights to enhance their business plans and ensure their readiness to pitch their businesses to a panel of investors for strategic business development and equity investment on the TV show, where only 5 shortlisted Kuwaiti entrepreneurs will be accepted from the 40 participants.

Beban is a reality TV show aired on Shahid, the leading regional online streaming platform, along with a number of regional television channels. Through the program, entrepreneurs pitch to investors for immediate investment offers and strategic business opportunities. The program is a production of Hope Ventures, the investment arm of Hope Fund, established by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain.

The next chapter of ZGI is also set to feature a number of key regional destinations, featuring comprehensive acceleration programs for the participating startups. The destinations will give entrepreneurs an invaluable opportunity to take on the regional market experience, while also networking and exchanging ideas and expertise with other notable entrepreneurs and reaching out to investment funds and form relations with potential business partners.

Zain strongly believes in the crucial role played by private sector organizations in supporting social and economic sustainability projects. The company is committed to printing a positive impact through all its activities, and this has led it to embrace the most influential topics in the community, perhaps most importantly the support of youth, entrepreneurship, and innovation, not only in Kuwait, but across the entire region.

ZGI offers a refreshed opportunity for local talents and the region’s entrepreneurial community. Throughout seven successful editions, the program has empowered, trained, and invested in hundreds of creative and driven Kuwaiti and Arab youth, of which many now own thriving and active SMEs to this day in local and regional markets.

Zain is well aware of the crucial role played by private sector organizations in supporting social and economic sustainability projects. Springing from its growing commitment towards practicing its social responsibility, the company is committed to printing a positive impact through all its activities. This has led Zain to embrace the most influential issues in the community, including the support of youth, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

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