Dubai SME and Intigral, the Mena’s digital hub, have joined hands and inked an memorandum of understanding to help boost the growth of small and medium enterprise sector of the emirate and region, a top official of Intigral said.

 

“We are here to help enterpreneurs and mentor their business ideas from conception to actual business up and running. As a step of commitment to the entrepreneurs, the company lauched region’s first full-spectrum digital sector start-up and entrepreneur incubator, Afkar.me, which sits at the core of Intigral’s commitment to grow the region’s digital ecosystemm” said Dr Ismaeel Makdisi, Intigral’s acting CEO.

The Mena region is experiencing monumental digital growth and is forecast to grow by three times to evolve to an estimated $18 billion opportunity by 2018.

“We are giving anyone with a great digital idea not only support at every stage of its development, but [more] importantly direct access to the Mena market via our existing clients and investors,” Dr Makdisi said at the launch of Afkar.me. The programme will be an annual initiative with four applications a year, targeting two intakes each from the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Importantly, if a project does not get selected they can develop on the feedback given during the boot camp weekend and re-apply to the next intake. Applications are now open until November 10.

Afkar.me partners will play a key role in the selection and mentorship process. They include MBC Ventures, Wamda, Arabnet, Dubai SME, STC Ventures, Altran, The Online Project, Astrolabs, and Middle East Venture Partners. Ketchum Raad is the communications partner.

“While there are start-up incubators and accelerators in the region, none of them offer the full spectrum of services that entrepreneurs require and Afkar.me is set to change this. We are planning to incubate about 140-150companies in 18 months period and are planning to expand our services to government and private organisations. The company is also eyeing to set up operations in Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco,” said Juan Jose de la Torre Ch, vice-president for strategy and corporate development at Intigral.  The six vital areas of support that will be provided for winning entrepreneurs and start-ups to turn their ideas into valuable products are a seed fund of $20,000 per team, dedicated Intigral management support as well as external mentor support to guide the team through every step of the process, free office space at Intigral’s Dubai and Riyadh offices, advice and support from experts in the field — both within Intigral and with partners.

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