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Community Jameel Saudi, a member of the global network of the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, announced the conclusion of the semifinals of the StartSmart Competition, after three months of intense training. The competition is sponsored by Community Jameel Saudi and organized by Bab Rizq Jameel, with this year marking its 7th consecutive edition. Through this competition, Community Jameel Saudi aims primarily to bolster the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Kingdom, fostering innovation, and empowering entrepreneurs to develop their own ideas and projects. This will ultimately help increase the number of SMEs and create job opportunities in the local market.
This year’s competition witnessed remarkable participation, drawing more than 1,000 applicants from diverse age groups and sectors since its launch in April. Participants chose from four distinct tracks: Startups, Ideas, Social Enterprise and Environment, with 60 teams qualifying for the semifinal stage. These teams underwent an intensive training camp between July 16-18, covering a variety of topics, including strategic planning, marketing and financial management. During the Virtual Demo Day, participants presented their projects and ideas to a judging panel, resulting in the selection of 36 teams for the final stage.
Soraka S. Alkhatib, CEO of Elmi Center and a judge in the Startups track, said: “I am honored to participate in the StartSmart competition, during which I witnessed many exciting and ambitious innovations. I was especially impressed by the diversity of the ideas presented, which resonated with the current aspirations of Saudi society.”
The final stage includes a month-long mentoring program for entrepreneurs, facilitated by local and international experts and consultants, offering detailed advice and guidance to refine their ideas and projects. The final event will feature the final judging panels on Sept. 27, followed by the closing ceremony on Sept. 28, where 12 winners will be announced (3 per track). Additionally, the ceremony will include free training workshops for the public, a conference and an exhibition, featuring prominent speakers and experts to discuss the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Kingdom.
Mohammed Abdul Ghaffar, general manager for social initiatives at Community Jameel Saudi, added: “We are committed to contributing to social, economic, and environmental prosperity, in line with Vision 2030’s objectives. We strive to launch initiatives such as the StartSmart Competition that help in developing the skills of Saudi youth and empowering them economically to reach new horizons of growth and success. We invite all entrepreneurs and interested parties to benefit from the knowledge and workshops offered at the closing ceremony on Sept. 28, which will also provide a great networking opportunity with the most prominent names in the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Kingdom.”
This initiative closely aligns with the goals of Vision 2030, aiming to boost the SMEs’ contribution to the national GDP.
Since its inception in 2016, the competition has facilitated the establishment of more than 120 companies, and provided world-class training to over 6,000 entrepreneurs, including special mentoring sessions and opportunities for participating startups to gain media visibility. Most notably, it provides networking opportunities with investors, business incubators, and leaders from both the private and governmental sectors, allowing entrepreneurs to establish startups and create job opportunities in the Kingdom.