Seedstars MENA Summit - Beirut is a wrap!

he Beirut startup ecosystem and the 12 regional winners of Seedstars World MENA experienced a tailor-made intense program, designed with the purpose to shape the future of MENA. Bonocle from Qatar won the 10,000 USD Seedstars MADA Best Arabic Assistive Technology award and Go Ahead won 5,000 USD from the Beyond Banking Hackathon by Bank Audi.

Beirut, Lebanon, November 30th, 2018 - On November 29th, Seedstars World, the biggest startup competition focused only in emerging markets, closed its annual tour in MENA with the Seedstars MENA Summit 2018 conference. The Summit happened under the Patronage of the Prime Minister's Office and counted with 350+ participants, from more than 21 countries, among startups, different stakeholders, media, and the general public.

Attendees enjoyed two days of intense activities, including Seedstars Growth Bootcamp, focused on business models, growth strategy, and pitching skills; touch Bootcamp, an invitation-only training activity for Lebanese startups from touch innovation program (TIP) and runner-ups from the Seedstars Beirut about growth and scaling to new markets; the Beyond Banking Hackathon by Bank Audi; a healthtech workshop for 35 participants and a private investor forum, both powered by the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL). During the conference, participants got the chance to participate in deep discussions and learn key insights from a star-filled speaker line up.

The Beyond Banking Hackathon by Bank Audi took place at antwork. 20+ selected participants worked on their ideas to tackle different challenges, ranging from reinventing the digital banking user experience and creating a personal touch in banking to imagining the banking e-advisor and rethinking the customer’s lending, saving, and transacting journeys. In the end, Wael Khattar, Adnan Kawas, Hiba Hamieh, Antoine Maalouf, and Lama Shatila who joined forces to build Go Ahead, an automated financial planner that provides users with a personalized financial plan, follows up with them along the way and offers them recommendations to improve their buying and spending, won 5,000 USD in cash prize as well as follow-on support from Bank Audi.

IDAL’s healthtech workshop gathered 30+ participants to discuss the use of technology to tackle health-related local and regional issues, map the healthtech landscape in MENA, and come up with concrete advice to foster the scaling of healthtech solutions, from MENA to the global stage.

During the conference, on the 29th, Bonocle won the Seedstars MADA Best Arabic Assistive Technology Startup award (10,000 USD), for developing a device that offers a most affordable and portable way for the visually impaired to access the digital content in Braille. “We’re very proud to have been crowned with the Best Arabic Assistive Tech title! This grant will allow us to develop our product and go-to-market across MENA, AbdelRazek Aly, co-founder of Bonocle, said.

Mr. Nadim Khater, Mr. Elie Habib, and Mr. Tayfun Ugur, moderated by Mrs. Maya Rahal, discussed the role of startups in corporate innovation. According to Elie Habib, co-founder & CTO of Anghami,as a startup, we know that we are growing and are now challenging big organizations and big ideas in the region. We are hungry to do more and know that it's all about iteration, just for like any startup that wants to work with corporates”. The event also included a bustling fireside chat with Mr. Christopher Schroeder, where many interesting questions arose, especially around entrepreneurship in emerging markets, and specifically in MENA. STEAM and HealthTech panels, as well as a debate about entrepreneurship in MENA, were also key highlights of the conference.

There was also time for the 12 MENA finalist startups to pitch on stage and prepare themselves for the competition finals in April 2019, when all the finalists will travel to Switzerland to represent their countries at the Seedstars Summit, a week-long training program, conference and pitching competition. The trip is part of the prize for having won their Seedstars World local competitions and will have them competing with +65 finalists from all over the world for the title of Seedstars Global Winner and up to $1M USD in equity investment and other prizes.


"They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds." - Mexican proverb

Seedstars is a Swiss-based group with the mission to impact people’s lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship, with a particular focus on the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. Seedstars connects stakeholders, builds companies from scratch with public and private partners and invests in high-growth startups within these ecosystems. Seedstars aims at fostering impact investing and impact entrepreneurship over the world. Through different activities, that range from startup scouting, events organization to company building and acceleration programs, Seedstars has built the world's biggest community of changemakers in emerging markets. Seedstars group includes the largest startup competition in emerging markets (Seedstars World Competition), the Entrepreneurship Forum for Emerging Markets (Seedstars Summit), physical entrepreneurs hubs (Seedspace), acceleration programs (Seedstars Growth), teaching & training programs (Seedstars Academy) and an investment entity with a startup lab and a fund (Seedstars Investments). Some of Seedstars main partners are Enel (Energy), School of Management Fribourg (HEG Fribourg) & TRECC - Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities (Education), BBVA (Finance), Tag Heuer (Fempreneurship, Time Saving and Innovation), Merck (Health) and Continental (Mobility).


Seedstars World is the world's largest startup competition in emerging markets. It has been five years now that Seedstars Team takes off every year for a 9-month world tour and scouts for the best early-stage startups in 65+ countries, organizing 100+ events. One winner is selected to represent each country visited, and is invited to attend one of the 5 Regional Summits, reuniting all local winners of each region to network with regional investors, mentors and corporates. Local winners are also awarded the chance to represent their countries at the Seedstars Summit, the competition final happening in Switzerland, where startups compete for up to $1Mn in investment. The Seedstars Summit is the flagship event of Seedstars, filled with breakout sessions, panel discussions, specialized workshops and the best minds from emerging markets.

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