Syrian entrepreneurs from all corners of the globe gathered in Beirut last month, where the Jusoor Entrepreneurship Competition took off. Here's the winning teams.
It's a sunny day in Beirut as the spring starts to imbue the city with its colors. But inside the Beirut Digital District, just metres away from the iconic Mohammad Al-Amin blue mosque, a group of Syrian entrepreneurs are crafting another kind of spring. Jusoor's fourth Entrepreneurship Competition has kicked off, inviting 15 teams of Syrian entrepreneurs based both in Syria and abroad to turn their ideas into businesses.
“My experience at the Jusoor bootcamp was one of the best experiences I have been through; it gave me hope that young Syrians are ambitious and will make a big difference in the revival of Syrian society," says Raafat Hantoush, the co-founder of Bote, the startup that won the first prize at the competition. Bote received a cash prize of $10,000 to grow its innovative product, a security hardware device that helps parents track their children through their shoe insoles.
The 10-day bootcamp kicked off with a visit to the ArabNet Beirut Conference, as an opportunity for the teams to meet and interact with the Lebanese tech and startup ecosystem, and later moved on to the Beirut Digital District, where over 20 mentors and trainers helped the 15 startups gear up for the final Demo Day.
After 10 extensive days of training and mentorship, the annual Demo Day and Entrepreneurship Gathering hosted over 150 attendees from the Lebanese, Syrian and International communities, with a stellar panel including Arabnet's CEO Omar Christidis, Abdulsalam Haykal, CEO of Haykal Group, Zaid Midani, Vice President of Capital Guidance, and Dania Ismail, Director of Jusoor’s Entrepreneurship Programme.
Video by Bassam Alhawarii.
The 15 startups tackled issues as varied as technology, water sanitation, creative education, real estate and shipping businesses, with Syrian entrepreneurs from across the world, from Dubai to Hong Kong and Berlin. “Perseverance is key” said Abdulsalam Haykal to the teams, “and that is evident in the improved quality of projects that we see year on year at the Jusoor competition,” adding that “what Jusoor has done in bringing these ideas and entrepreneurs together and creating this platform of exchange and growth is remarkable”. “I look forward to my time at the Jusoor bootcamp every year to learn about how these young Syrians are coming up with new ideas and fighting against all odds to see them through,” added Jusoor’s lead trainer, Karim Samakie.
Along with Bote, the second prize was awarded to Fodo, a web and mobile based supermarket application based in Syria, who received a cash prize of $7,000. ”The past two weeks were a wonderful journey full of experiences with outstanding people,” said co-founder Anas Al Sabe. The third award of $5,000 was given to Syract, a smart crisis reporting platform using crowdsourcing to support post conflict recovery reconstruction projects. Finally, a people’s choice award saw online voting reach more than 1,000 votes in favor of the winning team Shiffer, a peer-to-peer document shipping app that received a $1,000 prize.
The competition and bootcamp were made possible only with the support of Capital Guidance and Spark, and in partnership with Beirut Digital District, ArabNet, Wamda, Techfugees, TechStars, Berytech, and Startup Syria. Today, Jusoor has supported more than 82 teams through its entrepreneurship bootcamps across the world and has enabled more than 50% if these teams to launch their projects and continue on their path towards growth and success.
Find out more on Jusoor Syria here.
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