The Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an has entered into a three-year partnership with startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based accelerator powered by Tamkeen and anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi to further a joint vision of fostering Abu Dhabi as the global hub for social innovation and entrepreneurship. The partnership will entail six editions of the social incubator, an Academic Advisory Board involving faculty members and experts to enhance intellectual leadership in social innovation, Research Fellowships studying specific local focus areas, and annual Social Impact Symposiums that will convene thought leaders and enable tangible knowledge sharing.
The partnership was signed by His Excellency Faisal Al Hamoudi, Executive Director for Social Incubator and Contracting at Ma'an of Ma’an and Ramesh Jagannathan, Managing Director of startAD and Associate Dean of Engineering at NYU Abu Dhabi; in the presence of H.E Salama Al Ameemi – Director-General of the Authority of Social Contribution Ma’an and John Tate, the CEO of Tamkeen; at The Exchange, the flagship social innovation platform by Ma’an.
The sixth cycle of its Ma’an Social Incubator (MSI) programme, themed ‘Entrepreneurship for Social Good’, aiming to empower and equip social entrepreneurs in the financial literacy and education technology (EdTech) sectors, and with a focus on women entrepreneurs, was announced at the program. The social incubator programme intends to support early-stage social start-ups develop high-impact solutions and scale sustainable businesses that benefit society. It is open to start-ups with a robust social mission to revolutionize education through technology, improve financial awareness, simplify investments, or optimize personal finance habits. Applications will open on March 18 and close by May 8. Up to 12 start-ups will be selected for the cohort and be onboarded to the programme.
Start-ups with existing solutions that meet the selection criteria will be shortlisted by Ma’an to undergo a 90-day training programme to transform their solutions into viable and sustainable social ventures. The cohort participants will undergo workshops and training, mentorship and coaching, and benefit from network access, access to investors, office space and funding opportunities. Through Ma’an’s strategic partnerships, participants will gain exposure to an integrated environment of ecosystem partners, funding partners, media partners and sector-specific partners.
Underscoring the advantages of the MSI programme, His Excellency Faisal Al Hamoudi, said: “At Ma’an, we believe in the strength of the collective to unlock social innovation and unleash the potential of our homegrown social entrepreneurs. Our goal is to enhance and nurture the third sector of non-profit organisations, foundations and social enterprises to drive social innovation and bring global best practices to address the diverse needs of the community”.
His Excellency Faisal Al Hamoudi added: “With our sixth incubator programme themed ‘Entrepreneurship for Social Good’, Ma’an is attracting impactful and purpose-driven start-ups and entrepreneurs who have developed innovative and scalable solutions or ideas. Our focal areas of financial literacy and EdTech for the sixth cohort are emerging sectors with the potential to reap socio-economic benefits and deliver sustained economic growth. In parallel, we are enriching the entrepreneurial landscape in Abu Dhabi, along with our strategic partner startAD, to reinforce the emirate’s position as a global centre for social innovation.”
startAD Managing Director and NYUAD Associate Dean of Engineering, Ramesh Jagannathan, commented: “The UAE and Abu Dhabi are pioneering social entrepreneurship in the region and beyond, by encouraging and building a support system for entrepreneurs who aspire to grow further their businesses through innovation for social good. Our partnership with Ma’an is a joint effort to nurture the social entrepreneurs of tomorrow, helping them drive social change and create a lasting, transformational benefit to their communities and to the world.
According to recent reports, the UAE EdTech market size is estimated at USD 2.8 billion, and the FinTech industry is estimated at USD 2.5 billion, while at the same time more than 38 per cent of adults in the UAE are looking to improve their financial literacy. Thus, this year we chose to focus our program on startups that are committed to providing solutions in educational technology, financial literacy, and sustainability. In a country with such a young and diverse population, an empowered business sector and a strong innovation agenda, we see an unparalleled opportunity to foster social entrepreneurial spirit and provide businesses with the tools to grow their businesses for the benefit of society”
As one of Ma’an’s five key pillars, MSI fosters national innovation and entrepreneurship to develop solutions that address social, cultural and environmental challenges. Twice a year, MSI selects promising start-ups and provides them with the resources and support to grow and thrive.