Sheraa’s #UnitedForBeirut initiative will strengthen Lebanese startups

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre

The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) has launched the initiative #UnitedForBeirut to promote the revitalization of Beirut’s innovation movement and allow start-ups to contribute to the recovery of the city.

Sheraa’s fund set-up would translate into grants of $10,000 each for 10 selected Lebanese startups that are crucial to Beirut’s redevelopment and this project is a part of the $1 million Sheraa Solidarity Fund announced earlier this year in support of the #UbuntuLoveChallenge, in empowering the changemakers across the world to improve the communities.

As part of the AWS Activate scheme, the 10 start-ups selected with the help of the MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) Pan Arab will earn up to $10,000 each in Amazon Web Services (AWS) Activate credits. And additionally, they will be provided with technical support, mentorship, training and go-to-market support by the initiative in order to develop their business.

Najla Al Midfa, CEO, Sheraa, said: “Sheraa’s priority is to support founders in their time of need, and that includes those beyond our borders who have been affected by the tragic Beirut explosion. By providing these leading Lebanese startups with financial grants, Sheraa is expanding its mandate beyond Sharjah to help empower founders across the region.”

“We are confident that the vital contributions of these ventures will boost Lebanon’s socio-economic development efforts and help restore the city of Beirut. This confidence stems from Sheraa’s longstanding belief that impact-driven and tech-enabled startups can contribute immensely to developing a strong and diversified economy, anywhere in the world,” she added.

Maya Rahal, MD, MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab, said: “Despite the tragic event that hit Beirut and its people last month, we have hope that the future generation of action leaders, civil society, and entrepreneurs will lead for a better world. This partnership with Sheraa is yet another proof of the power of community, which we have witnessed recently on the ground in Beirut, and throughout our work during the past 14 years.”

She further added, “Our network of startup founders has shown unprecedented solidarity and support to their surrounding community, where they used their expertise to provide immediate food and shelter to affected people. While selecting the beneficiaries for this donation, we paid particular attention to the impact that the financial contribution will make in the short and long term. We have complete faith that our alumni will rise to the tremendous challenge ahead of them: to rebuild Lebanon and to thrive against all odds.”

Selected 10 startups by the project include:

  • Buildink, a 3D concrete printing firm which plans and develops single-story house
  • Mruna, which has produced a decentralized system of the nature-based wastewater treatment system
  • Moodfit, an online furnishing and interior design platform
  • FabricAID, a social enterprise that collects, sorts, and redistributes dresses to disadvantaged societies
  • Sympaticus, a sustainable tech-driven social enterprise that tries to develop access to mental health services
  • B.O.T (Bridge. Outsource. Transform), a sourcing network that provides unemployed young people with managed remote freelance job opportunities
  • KwikPak Shelter, a ready-to-deploy emergency accommodation design for refugees and communities caught in natural catastrophe areas
  • Compost Baladi SAL, A social enterprise specializing in the sustainable management of organic waste
  • Basma, A medical technology corporation that internationally offers orthodontic and restorative treatment and
  • Kids Genius (The Makers Hub), a creative space built exclusively for young people between the ages of 7 and 18.