5 fantastic funding opportunities for Arab entrepreneurs

Whether you are a part of a budding startup or a fearless social enterprise, we’ve got exciting  news for you. Here are 5 hotly anticipated funding opportunities across the MENA region to kick start your business.


1. Dubai Startup Hub Smartpreneur Competition 3.0

Dubai Startup Hub’s trailblazing Smatpreneur Competition is back for the 3rd consecutive year. Applications are open to startups who have solutions in the fields of Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and Digital Transformation. Each team must submit business ideas in line with one of these three fields.

The first three winners will receive a sum of money and the opportunity to enrol in a number of Dubai Startup Hub’s annual programmes. The total cash prize equates to 150,000 AED (equivalent to roughly 40,800 USD) which will be shared between the top three finalists. The deadline to submit your business idea is 9th April, 2018. This competition is only open to entrepreneurs based in the United Arab Emirates, and may reopen following the deadline. Further information can be found on the competition’s website. What are you waiting for?!


2. The Deloitte Accelerator for Social Innovation in the Middle East

The Deloitte Accelerator for Social Innovation in the Middle East is a Deloitte Social Responsibility Programme designed to combat the Middle East’s social challenges by aiding small to medium sized social enterprises grow. Deloitte Middle East is looking for social enterprises from 14 Middle Eastern countries that are engaged with either education and skills building, women’s advancement, health and wellbeing, environmental sustainability or humanitarian action.

Two social-enterprises will be selected to receive a range of goodies whilst on the programme. To mention but a few, prizes include customised Deloitte support packs, mentorship and skills development valued at over 100,000 USD. Applications close on 15th April 2018 and may reopen following the deadline.


3. Expo 2020 Dubai – Innovation Impact Grant Programme

The sister initiative to Dubai’s annual Expo 2020 – ExpoLive –  has launched a series of funding programmes to accompany this year’s event. One of which is the Innovation Impact Grant Programme. The grant seeks to fund innovative and novel solutions that encapsulate ExpoLive’s current focus area: “Connecting Minds, Creating Future”.

Funding will be allocated to social enterprises, startups and grassroots projects whose proposals address one of the aforementioned theme’s subcategories: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. A detailed description of the submission requirements can be found on Expo 2020’s website.  Submissions open twice a year and teams from across the globe can apply provided that they satisfy the eligibility criteria. Keep your eyes peeled for details of the next application cycle!


4. Audi Innovation Award

The Audi Innovation Award serves to highlight innovative design ideas. The competition is run by Audi Middle East in partnership with Dubai Design week. It’s aim is to foster and empower regional designers while simultaneously cataloguing intellectual advancements in the Middle East and North Africa.

This year, the prize will be accepting submissions on the theme of “Connections”. Register your interest on the website to find out more about what the organisers are looking for.

The winner will receive a range of prizes including an award of 25,000 USD towards consultancy costs, to cover services such as IP registration and legal counselling. Runners-up can expect a 2,500 USD contribution towards the exhibition of their design at Dubai Design Week 2018. Submissions close in early September 2018 and may reopen in future.


5. Arab Startup Competition

This creative and cool annual startup competition is run by MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab. It is geared towards Arab entrepreneurs who fit into one of the competition’s three tracks: Startup Track, Ideas Track or Social Entrepreneurship Track. Full profiles of each of the tracks can be found on the competition’s website.

Cash sums in excess of 160,000 USD and a host of other opportunities (mentorship, networking and media) await the lucky winner. Applications for the 2019 are forecast to begin at the end of 2018 so make sure you put a note in your diaries!

More Articles for You

The Syrian artist who paints on death

Akram Abo Alfoz, an artist living under siege in Ghouta, creates inspiration as he transforms the medium destroying his city into a vehicle of hope. His work speaks optimism in a language that transcends speech.

Western colonialism’s continued compromise of Arab democracy

The British made promises to the Arabs but, after the fall of the Ottomans, European promises vanished like a mirage. Instead, they filled the Ottoman power vacuum with the British mandate. There would be no democracy in the Middle East.

Israel: an illegitimate, Middle Eastern democracy

Other than the fact that Israel is not the only example of democracy in the Middle East: is a democratically elected government legitimate if they are elected to pursue systematic colonialism?

Iran: politics of pragmatism & Arab parallels

Since the existence of independent nation states in the Middle East and North Africa, Iran has been one of the …

What is Apartheid Off Campus?

Apartheid Off Campus is a growing network of young activists across the United Kingdom, students leading the struggle to end their own universities’ complicity in the Israeli apartheid regime (hafrada, or “separateness” in Hebrew), or its colonisation of Palestine. Despite student …

On France’s “Arab problem”

A recurring theme throughout Arab literature is exile. Being far from home, far from one’s family, one’s land, or one’s …