The Jusoor Entrepreneurship Competition took place at ArabNet Beirut after 20 teams attended a bootcamp in Beirut for 14 days. At the competition, the teams had to pitch their startups to a panel of judges including our very own director Rama Chakaki and TechWadi board member Hala Fadel.
Jusoor Entrepreneurship Competition awards 6 Syrian startups in Tech, Education and Science. This Sunday, March 6th, Jusoor hosted an Entrepreneurship Gathering and Pitch Day event at Beirut Digital District in Lebanon, the day saw the 18 finalists of Jusoor’s second Entrepreneurship Competition pitch their ideas to a panel of judges to select the final 6 winners.
The event welcomed young Syrian entrepreneurs from Syria and Lebanon in addition to representatives from VCs, media agencies, and incubators.
Competition was tight as this year’s competition saw an increase in the talent pool of the participating teams, with 24% female candidates, the pitches included 58% in the field of education while 26% are providing a service through an online platform. Jusoor’s Entrepreneurship Program Director, Dania Ismail, explains “I was very impressed with the quality of ideas and the general competency of teams this year, Jusoor is happy to see an improvement year on year and hopes to inspire more young Syrians to follow their dreams through more competitions and community events, we are also working with MIT Enterprise Forum and TechWadi to launch a mentorship program to continue supporting the startups we worked with during our bootcamp”.
The competition ended with a surprise as the judges decided to split the first place prize for the Startup Track among the two tying teams and collectively agreed to sponsor a sixth prize that addresses the universal problem of water sanitation.
The Social Track first prize of $15,000 was awarded to Share from Sweida lead by Qussai Mukaled and his co-founding team Hussam Nasr and Bushra Mourawed. Share is an offline time banking platform for youth to exchange skills and services using hour credits in place of monetary currency. In response to winning the prize, the Share team commented “We are as happy with winning this prize as we are for the support and appreciation we received from every team at the bootcamp, we take the responsibility of winning very seriously and hope to be able to fulfill our obligation with Share. Thank you Jusoor for giving us the opportunity to develop our project and give it such exposure and for introducing us to all the wonderful people we met along the way”
Second place in the Social track of $5,000 was given to Tamkeen, an online platform linking educators to students and youth without access to academic resources and educational institutions in Syria.
The Startup Track first prize of $15,000 had a surprising end as the judges decided to split the prize among two tying teams; Remaz, co-founded by Lean Darwish and Muhammad Sultan, and BitCode, founded by Tarek Sheikh AlShabab. Both are educational platforms that teaches ‘programming by doing’ through interactive courses based on gamification, the platforms are also open to Arabic speaking youth aspiring to learn programming online, allowing young Syrians to acquire skills that are in high demand in local and international markets.
The Second Place Prize in the Startup Track of $5,000 was awarded to i-Can, founded by Yasser Alkhatib and Tarrif Alkhatib, a multi-language location based mobile application that helps Syrian refugees in various disciplines to provide their services through an interactive platform. The app provides a unique messaging feature that is built on automated instant translation to break the language barrier standing in the way of refugees finding jobs in host countries.
The People’s Choice award selected through a voting platform open to the public was given to Sanad Spaces, Co-Founded by Yaman Al Sabek and Mouayad Al Hijazi, the team aims to develop an ecosystem through a multi purpose co-working space in Damascus for startups and entrepreneurs. The Special Category award was given to Nobelchemist founded by Louay Otba from Aleppo, with a mission to make water safe for everyone through a biodegradable water sanitation tablet.
The Entrepreneurship Gathering was full of positive energy, excitement, and inspirational support from the participants towards one another and from the larger Lebanese community. Through a partnership with ArabNet, the teams had the chance to visit the conference in Beirut and meet like-minded entrepreneurs from the Middle East while interacting with thought leaders from the world of tech, investment, and innovation.
The final day came after a 12 day bootcamp that ran from February 24th, during which teams in the Social and Startup track took part in full day training and coaching in business topics from ideation, business modeling, financials to perfecting their pitches. The bootcamp was lead by Karim Samakie, previous investment manager with Oasis500.
The panel of judges included
Habib Haddad, CEO of Wamda, Hala Fadel, Partner at LEAP Ventures and Chair of the MIT Arab Enterprise Forum, Rama Chakaki Founder of BarakaBits and Interim Director at Techwadi, Omar Christidis, CEO of Arabnet, and Ronaldo Mouchawer, CEO of Souq.com. The judges evaluated each team according to their chosen track, offering them valuable feedback and sharing expertise through a panel and roundtable discussions covering relevant topics to Syrian entrepreneurs.
The Competition and Bootcamp were made possible through the invaluable support of Boeing, Beirut Digital District, ArabNet, MIT Enterprise Forum, Startup Next, and Haykal Media.
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