Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) and CE-Ventures have disbursed more than AED700,000 ($190,560) in equity-free grants to 11 startups, offering them an opportunity to navigate current economic challenges.
The 11 selected startups operate in the retail, real estate, fintech, travel & tourism, agriculture, education, technology and creative sectors. Sheraa and CE-Ventures effort to support local industries is inspired by Sharjah’s keen interest in promoting and supporting startups in a variety of sectors that continue to contribute to the emirate’s strong and diversified economy.
This joint fund falls under the #UbuntuLoveChallenge, a global initiative spearheaded by Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa), and Mamadou Kwidjim Toure, founder of the Africa 2.0 Foundation. The collaboration between CE-Ventures and Sheraa follows Sheraa’s $1 million Startup Solidarity Fund announcement made earlier this year.
Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa, said: “Injecting emergency capital into Sheraa startups that have been unduly affected by the pandemic has been a top priority to ensure they are able to quickly recover and resume their stride. Our partnership with CE-Ventures has been crucial in selecting startups that are able to benefit in the long run. The collaboration is a testimony to our mutual dedication to building a vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem that contributes to a thriving economy.”
Tushar Singhvi, Director of CE-Ventures, the corporate venture capital (CVC) platform of Crescent Enterprises, said: “In collaboration with Sheraa, we have selected 11 startups that demonstrated a culture of resilience, continued to have robust business models, and proactively pivoted to weather the crisis. To navigate the challenging market environment, these startups are set to keep a tight rein on operational costs without undermining their ability to do business now, and to step up operations in the future. CE-Ventures continues to proactively evaluate investment opportunities in transformative companies that are well positioned for sustainable growth and positive social impact.”
The application process commenced in May 2020 with eligible startups being shortlisted by a committee comprised of members from CE-Ventures, Sheraa and an independent venture capital firm. Each startup was evaluated based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative data across three main areas; Cash Flow, Product & Business Model, and Team. This allowed a definitive assessment on key business functions of the startups as well as their outlook post-Covid 19.
Candidates were requested to submit detailed business plans that attested to the startup’s performance based on revenue and profitability prior to the pandemic, as well as their ability to mitigate the current negative impact of COVID-19.Apart from technical assessments, the shortlisting process also reviewed the startup teams’ competencies and expertise to help gauge their capacity to manage the business during the present crisis, and capability to effectively utilize incoming funds to grow their business.
Sheraa, a non-profit government organization, is headquartered at the American University of Sharjah and hosts a thriving community of ambitious entrepreneurs. The second Sheraa hub, launched in September 2018, is located at the University of Sharjah.
CE-Ventures is the corporate venture capital (CVC) platform of Crescent Enterprises, making strategic investments in early- to late-stage high-growth companies and select venture funds globally. The platform was launched in 2017 and initially capitalised with $150 million to be invested by 2020, 50 percent of which is targeted at the Mena region. – TradeArabia News Service