Manama – 12 October 2020: Zain Bahrain, a leading telecommunications provider in the Kingdom virtually hosted the 5th edition of 'Zainnovate' in partnership with Alkeri Partners, a Bahrain based startup foundry, and Oqal Angel Investors Network, the first Angel investor community in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Launched in 2019, the Zainnovate initiative is a strategic platform through which Zain and its partners – Alkeri & Oqal support startups by helping them grow, develop, and sustain in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
The opening session was addressed by Shaikh Abdulla Al Khalifa, Director, Communications & Investor Relations at Zain Bahrain followed by Mr. Jamal A. Al-Hazeem, Chairman of Alkeri Partners and Oqal Bahrain Chapter, and Mr. Khaled Zainalabedin, Managing Partner of Alkeri Partners and Founder and President of Oqal Bahrain Chapter. The first session was addressed by Guest Speaker Mr. Ashish Panjabi, COO of Jacky's Retail Group UAE, Board and President-Elect TIE (The Indus Entrepreneur – UAE Chapter), and Ex-President EO – UAE Chapter who spoke in-depth about 'Corporates & Startups.' The session highlighted key points on why corporates invest in startups and emphasized on the rise of corporate venture arms in the GCC region, their Brick & Mortar businesses & and how corporates adapt to technology and changing market trends. This was followed by a Q&A session.
The second session presented Oqal Bahrain's startup cohort pitch sessions, which included three leading startups in the education, technology, and consumer & beauty sectors from the Kingdom of Bahrain. The first pitch was by Khalid Al Turki from Marfe, a UAE-based startup into Eductech and training, followed by Mohanna Al Sulaiti from AlMajlis, a Bahrain based startup offering a social networking application, and Zaina Al Bader from Bookr, a Bahrain based startup offering cloud-based administrative software and app-based marketplace targeting salons, spas, and barbers in the MENA region.
Commenting on the successful hosting of the 5th edition of Zainnovate, Sheikh Abdulla bin Khalid Al Khalifa, Director, Communications & Investor Relations at Zain Bahrain said, "The startup culture has grown greatly in Bahrain and we are glad that we along with our partners have provided a platform such as 'Zainnovate' that not only provides ambitious youngsters with finding a source for finance but also assists them in their sustainable growth and performance. At Zainnovate, there are companies who are at the Seed stage and few at an early stage of pitching and what we continually look for is the dynamic capability of the industry the startup/idea is in and how differently it benefits the product-starved market and finally the country. We thank our partners for their continuous support and hope to create success stories that will further develop the entrepreneurial environment in the Kingdom and inspire Bahraini Youth to learn from."
Speaking on the occasion, Khaled Zainalabedin, Managing Partner of Alkeri Partners and Founder and President of Oqal Bahrain Chapter, said, "Through Zainnovate, we believe that we are accelerating the next generation of innovators in Bahrain and the GCC thereby supporting Zain in their endeavors to provide the necessary support for SME sector projects in order for them to grow, develop and sustain. In its 5th edition, Zainnovate has positioned Oqal Bahrain as a key aggregator and driver in the funding market and we would like to continue doing so by providing exciting investment opportunities in the future."
Zainnovate targets different types of people such as, startup founders who want to pitch their new business ideas, get funded, or want to learn from industry experts. Zain's contribution towards the startup ecosystem in Bahrain is in line with its corporate sustainability and social responsibility strategy which focuses on three core pillars: Innovation, Thought Leadership, and Youth Empowerment.