In the second annual Wharton-HCT Innovation Tournament in the Middle East, regional entrepreneurs brought forward proposals that addressed a host of issues facing the Arab World. Winning the top prize was a healthcare initiative from Algeria that focused on managing diabetes with online and mobile tools. Discussing the competition with Arabic Knowledge@Wharton, entrants said it was an opportunity not only to gain precious funding and exposure to academic and industry experts, but also to learn and be inspired.
Published: May 14, 2013 Who Dares, Succeeds: Fighting Fear and Finding Creativity
Do you have a great idea, but have not tried to see if it would actually work? That's because you feel too safe, according to Adam Montandon, a British digital futurist living in Denmark. Real creativity seems very dangerous to many people, he says, because of the uncertainty in a new proposition. But that's how you get the best ideas. "If you're approaching the same thing, the same way every time, you get the same results every time," he suggests.
Published: May 14, 2013 From New York to Tunis, a Daughter Returns to Foster Local Entrepreneurship
Leaving the United States to join the rebuilding of Tunisia's post-revolutionary economy, Alia Mahmoud quickly immersed herself in the country's nascent entrepreneurial environment. From her vantage point, Mahmoud has observed the various challenges facing startups there. Many are shared among entrepreneurs in the region, she notes, the legacy of economic policies that seem good on paper but are not practical. There is still much work to be done, she says, for the region to become competitive and attractive to foreign investment.
Published: April 30, 2013 Is the Latin American Technology Sector Ready for an Entrepreneurial Revolution?
Latin America has become a breeding ground for new technological entrepreneurs recently -- so much so, that some experts believe that the sector is poised to take off. However, analysts note that a Latin American technology revolution will not take place without greater participation from private investors -- or without reforms in fiscal policy and a change in the Latin American mentality concerning business failure.
Published: April 30, 2013 Arab Entrepreneur Issues: Investment, Restrictive Policies and Protecting Intellectual Capital
Protecting intellectual property is just one of the pressing issues facing Arab entrepreneurs, particularly those in the high tech and scientific fields. At a recent Wharton business conference on the Middle East and North Africa, entrepreneurs from the region said that many of their peers go to the U.S. or Europe just to ensure their products are patented, and to safeguard ideas from unscrupulous competitors. Often just making the right business-to-business connection is a challenge in the region, they noted.
Published: March 19, 2013 Bites and Bytes: An Egyptian Entrepreneur's Mix of Computers and Cookies
Egyptian entrepreneur Heidi Belal has two companies to her name: She works as a tech services provider and runs her own dessert catering business. In an interview with Arabic Knowledge@Wharton, Belal discusses how such a quirky combination of businesses came about, and what she has done to turn each business into a success. One nugget of advice: "Put the most minimal investment you can into the business, and then see how it goes from there."
Published: March 05, 2013 A Blossoming Business in Tunisia
As a flower farmer, Jalila Tamallah has found a way to grow a better life for her family in Tunisia. She has become an astute businesswoman in the process, expanding her interests to raising livestock as well with the help of good profits and microcredit loans. Far from the turbulence of the Arab Spring, Tamallah says she has quietly gained something many in the region demand -- the chance to build for a future. "We came here and we learned little by little," she tells Arabic Knowledge@Wharton. "Now, I am the manager."
Published: February 05, 2013 Thinking Local, Going Global: Building Tech Start-ups in Africa
With limited infrastructure, a challenging regulatory environment and a small pool of skilled employees, tech start-ups in Africa face a difficult road to success. But panelists at the recent Wharton Africa Forum say the companies also stand to tap into a continent ripe with opportunity -- and one where there is limited competition from powerful multinationals.
Published: January 22, 2013 Brushstrokes and Business Risks: Deena Fadel's Exercise in Creativity and Entrepreneurship
Quitting her job as an art director, Deena Fadel sought to recapture her creativity. But the decision also propelled her into entrepreneurship, as she soon saw a chance to start a business making usable household objects infused with Arabic design. Now the 29-year-old's company has grown, and her products are displayed across the region and abroad. She tells Arabic Knowledge@Wharton that deciding to quit her job wasn't easy, but she has gained much by striking out on her own, from learning how to run a business, to becoming more assertive. "Just find out what's out there," she says.
Published: January 08, 2013 Gradberry's Ripe Idea: A Recruitment Portal for Middle East Youth
Every student looks forward to graduation day, but few are prepared to deal with the tough challenge of finding their first job. When she graduated from university, Iba Masood was dismayed to discover there were no job sites in the Middle East that catered to fresh graduates with limited experience. To fill that gap, she launched Dubai-based Gradberry.com, a recruitment portal dedicated to graduates and students with less than two years of work experience. "We know the troubles they are facing because we faced it," Masood tells Arabic Knowledge@Wharton. "We represent the graduates."
Published: December 11, 2012 For Rama Chakaki, Nurturing Entrepreneurs Is a Heartfelt Mission
Rama Chakaki was in her mid-20s when she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that builds scar tissue around her heart. Determined to make the most of her life, she sought to promote the concept of corporate social responsibility in the region. Nearly two decades later, she has a leadership role in the Middle East's entrepreneurial landscape, helping innovative social enterprises through her firm, Baraka Ventures. "There's always a way to break through and do things the right way," Chakaki tells Arabic Knowledge@Wharton.
Published: November 27, 2012 The Kids Behind the Picture: Young Gulf Filmmakers Seek an Audience
Students across the Gulf are turning to film and video with dreams of making the next blockbuster or Emmy-winning documentary. It is partly because of the events of the Arab Spring and the dramatic images that have been central to the revolutions. But it is also because many want to tell their stories and feel there is an audience that is willing to watch. They are also benefiting from new resources available to them, including film companies and institutes developing local talent, and regional film festivals that will showcase their work.
Published: November 13, 2012 Click to Checkout: Namshi.com Sets the Trend for Online Fashion Retail in the Middle East
The Middle East fashion retail market features some of the wealthiest and most demanding customers in the world. But the region has never had an online retailer targeting the market. That was the opportunity Muhammed Mekki and Faraz Khalid hoped to exploit with Namshi.com. The startup gained enough momentum to attract US$20 million in funding this past September. In an interview with Arabic Knowledge@Wharton, Mekki and Khalid discuss the challenges for online retail in the region and the strategies that have led to their success.
Published: October 31, 2012 A Night of Inspiration: Aspiring Entrepreneurs Gather in Dubai For Lessons on Risk
Dubai Tech Nights brings together IT enthusiasts, aspiring entrepreneurs and industry mentors in a bid to emulate the creative spirit of America's technology center, Silicon Valley. Nestled in beanbags, attendees listen to stories of entrepreneurs who eke out a living following their dreams. Participants in the event are there to explore the entrepreneurship culture, learn how to avoid the pitfalls of launching a start-up and discuss the challenges of running a company. A key message for all: "The defining characteristic of an entrepreneur is the ability to handle uncertainty."
Published: October 31, 2012 Drawing from Tunisia's Rich History, a Wind Energy Innovation Sets Sail
At the TEDGlobal 2012 conference in Scotland, Tunisian entrepreneur Hassine Labaied presented Saphon Energy, a wind energy company named in reference to his country's past as a marine empire. The key innovation it promotes is its zero blade technology, which harnesses wind with a design inspired by sailboats. Speaking to Arabic Knowledge@Wharton, Labaied also discusses how the Arab Spring sparked his decision to leave an international banking career in Dubai to return to Tunisia to help reshape his country.
Published: August 21, 2012