Eaman Al-Roudhan, Al-Khashti and Al-Mana with ZGI entrepreneurs during a previous event

KUWAIT: Zain, the leading digital service provider in Kuwait, announced the launch of the sixth edition of its Zain Great Idea (ZGI) tech startup accelerator program, which comes this year in an all-virtual format to adhere to the health guidelines posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program comes in joint collaboration with Brilliant Lab, a startup Accelerator Service from Kuwait, and Mind the Bridge, a global organization based in Silicon Valley that bridges the world through entrepreneurship education for startups, enterprises, and investors to succeed in global markets.

ZGI offers a refreshed opportunity for local talents and Kuwait’s entrepreneurial community, as it has been one of the most successful initiatives Zain presented to the Kuwaiti market as part of its comprehensive innovation and entrepreneurship strategy. Throughout five successful editions, ZGI empowered, trained, and invested in hundreds of creative and driven Kuwaiti youth, of which many now own thriving and active Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to this day in local and regional markets.

Commenting on the program’s launch, Zain Kuwait’s Chief Corporate Communications and Relations Officer Waleed Al-Khashti said: “We are delighted to announce the official launch of the sixth edition of our Zain Great Idea tech startup accelerator program. This year’s edition comes in an all-virtual format in an effort to abide by health guidelines and restrictions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Al-Khashti explained: “The pandemic was not a barrier that prevented us from renewing our commitment to Kuwait’s entrepreneurial community. On the contrary, we took it as a challenge to reintroduce the program more exceptionally than ever. We at Zain are the first to believe in technology’s excellence as an effective and high-efficient tool to develop skills and train talents”.

Al-Khashti continued: “After 10 years of continuous feats achieved by this initiative, we have succeeded in pushing forward hundreds of brilliant entrepreneurs who own thriving businesses and SMEs that operate not only in the local market, but even across regional and international ones as well”.

Al-Khashti unveiled: “In this virtual edition, all participants will have a chance to receive a cash investment of $50K to fund their tech startups’ operational and commercial costs. Participants will be able to apply for this funding by pitching their startups to the investment committee we created along with our partners at Rasameel Investment Company and Brilliant Lab”.

Al-Khashti expressed his appreciation to the teams at Zain, Brilliant Lab, and ZGI partners who work tirelessly and around the clock to make this initiative a success amid exceptional circumstances to redesign the entire program in an all-virtual format while maintaining the program’s known high-quality level.

Zain Kuwait’s Sustainability, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Department Manager Haya Al-Mana said: “Our ZGI finalists will be able to benefit from Zain’s leading experiences across many areas that are essential to any startup, including marketing, advertising, customer care, public relations, digital partnerships, business/consultancy/legal services, and much more”.

Al-Mana continued: “Any entrepreneur who gets accepted into the program’s first phase will join our bootcamp, which will be completely virtual this year and will continue for four weeks. The bootcamp will feature workshops, training sessions, panel discussions, and more, facilitated by world-class experts, academics, and trainers from top international educational institutions such as IE Business School, MIT, Stanford, and more. In addition, we will offer one-to-one sessions with top experts in various fields for every finalist”.

Neda Al-Dehani, Founder and CEO of Brilliant lab commented: “Today, the Zain Great Idea program has become a reference for the local startup market. The program’s previous editions featured many startups that continued to develop and attract promising investment opportunities to the Kuwaiti market”. Al-Dehani added: “Many of the unique startups that were a part of ZGI received investment interests recently, including, for example, three of last year’s ZGI 5 alumni:

Armada (order & delivery solutions), HOT (online training and workouts), and Baims (e-learning platform)”. Al-Dehani also mentioned that the year 2020 witnessed a new startup acquisition within the local market, where Provision recently acquired “Li3ib”, an app that was a success story of ZGI 4.

Al-Dehani continued: “I advise new startup owners, whether from the Kuwaiti or GCC markets, to join the sixth edition of ZGI and make use of the investment, business, and marketing services it offers”. Al-Dehani concluded: “This program surely puts the national and regional startup economies on strong grounds, because it offers great career opportunities for the youth, as well as real-world training experiences that will ultimately develop their business skills and produce a productive workforce based on world-class experiences”.

Zain is well aware of the crucial role played by private sector organizations in supporting social and economic sustainability projects. Springing from its growing commitment towards practicing its social responsibility, the company is committed to printing a positive impact through all its activities. This has led Zain to embrace the most influential issues in the community, including the support of youth, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

Terms and conditions
Applying for the Bootcamp and the investment committee is open to persons from all nationalities, aged 21 and above. Noting that priority goes to Kuwaiti startups. The applicant must be the founder or co-founder of the startup. Team submissions are acceptable, but only two persons who are nominated by the team may participate in the Zain Great Idea Bootcamp. Startups may be implemented in Kuwait or in any other country, and they may be implemented within the tech and digital transformation industry.

The investment committee consists of members from Rasameel Investment Company, Brilliant Lab, and Zain’s management. 10 startups from the ZGI Bootcamp will be selected to advance to Phase 5 – The Zain Media and Business Support. Candidates will be provided with both Arabic and English versions of the Terms & Conditions of the program for their information and acceptance. In case of any ambiguity between the two versions, the Arabic version shall prevail.

How to apply
After agreeing to the terms and conditions, applicants should apply their tech startup idea by filling out the online form at zaingreatidea.com and attach any supporting documents or videos (if available).

Virtual Bootcamp
Eligible applicants will participate in the virtual Bootcamp phase. Throughout four weeks, they will learn the essentials of accelerating their tech startups via workshops, training sessions, and panel discussions featured by world-class facilitators and trainers from top international institutions, including IE Business School, MIT, Stanford, and more.

Zain co-developing and services
If the startup passes the judging panel, entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to benefit from Zain’s leading experiences in areas that are essential to any startup, including marketing, advertising, customer care, public relations, digital partnerships, business/consultancy/legal services, and much more.

Virtual Zain Demo Day event
At the end f the program, all finalists will be hosted at a virtual Zain Demo Day event, through which they will present and pitch their final startups to investors, business partners, and others, giving them the opportunity to transform their ideas and startups into a profitable business.