There is groundbreaking work being done by startup entrepreneurs in the Middle East, and in recognition of these achievements, weekly business magazine Arabian Business introduced the Arabian Business StartUp Awards in 2013.
For its 2018 awards, Arabian Business received over 350 nominations in more than a dozen categories. The final list of around 70 nominees represents the very best in each of these groups, which range from acceleration programs to young entrepreneurs.
Here are a few of the most innovative nominees for the 2018 Arabian Business StartUp Awards.
Mintaga.com earned a spot in the New Media Start Up of the Year category. One of five nominees, Mintaga has made a name for itself as a platform for Dubai residents who are looking to move but need trusted advice on where to live. With a name that alludes to the Arabic word for “locale,” Mintaga has become a crowd-sourced hub of information about housing across the city.
Current residents of local residential buildings can turn to Mintaga to leave reviews about where they live. They can provide feedback on buildings themselves, including how safe they are and how well the management handles maintenance issues. Mintaga also welcomes opinions on nearby amenities, accessibility to public transport, and the overall feel of each building. These scores combine into a rating of between one and five stars, allowing the startup to reflect the most accurate sentiments of those living in Dubai’s residential communities.
A facet of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), FinTech Hive was nominated for Incubator/Accelerator of the Year for its contributions to the progress of fintech startups in the Middle East and beyond. The region’s first accelerator of its kind, FinTech Hive works alongside startups that have developed some of the most groundbreaking ideas in insurance and financial services.
Participants in the FinTech Hive acceleration program engage in 12 weeks of mentorship from experts in their field. During this time, the startups examine and cultivate their innovative concepts based on comments from these insiders as well as their target audiences. Startups also gain the opportunity to expand their industry knowledge during workshops and operate in a dedicated workspace for the duration of the program.
Nominated for Start Up of the Year, Badia Farms is pairing innovation with agriculture to address the challenges of food security in the UAE. The startup made headlines in 2018 for becoming Dubai’s first commercial vertical farm.
Badia Farms is capitalizing on the concept of vertical farming by growing its selection of greenery and herbs inside a warehouse using stacks of trays that reach over 20 feet high. This unique environment eliminates the need to use harmful chemicals such as pesticides when growing crops. Badia Farms is also capable of growing its food even in the absence of soil and sunlight. Plants are grown under LED lighting and bathed in a nutrient-rich mist.
Water and energy efficiency are not Badia Farms’ only agricultural innovations; the startup grows its crops within a 30-kilometer radius of the consumers it serves. In many cases, its produce arrives at its destination within a day of harvesting, guaranteeing that locals are receiving the freshest items possible. More importantly, this setup is helping Badia Farms move the UAE away from its reliance on imported produce.
A nominee in the Investor of the Year category, Shorooq Investments is a diversely experienced venture capital and private equity firm headquartered in Abu Dhabi. The organization focuses its work solely in the realm of entrepreneurship, hoping to give a much-needed boost to this ecosystem as it continues its growth in the UAE.
In each of its investment partnerships, Shorooq Investments provides advice and support to entrepreneurs looking to launch their startups. The firm builds its relationships based on such values as respect, transparency, and honoring the essence of entrepreneurship. Shorooq Investments has practiced this philosophy in its partnerships with Joi, Pure Harvest, SmartCrowd, and more.
Mark Chahwan, Sarwa
Mark Chahwan of Sarwa is a Young Entrepreneur of the Year nominee. He paired his experience working at some of the biggest financial organizations in Canada with his degree in entrepreneurship to co-found Sarwa in Dubai, UAE. As the startup’s CEO, Chahwan has sought to revolutionize the field of fintech by bringing robo-advisors to the forefront of financial services.
Sarwa is tackling this challenge by helping those in the UAE find and make investments with as much ease as possible. The startup has created a more personalized system of investment, which walks its customers through each step of the process online. Unlike more traditional investment models, Sarwa has low fees and small minimums, making investment more accessible to all. By simply outlining their investment goals, clients receive a customized portfolio that will help them achieve maximum returns.