Dubai Chamber Announces Winners Of 4th Dubai Smartpreneur Competition

Dubai Chamber Announces Winners Of 4th Dubai Smartpreneur Competition
Dubai Chamber Announces Winners Of 4th Dubai Smartpreneur Competition
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Dubai Chamber Announces Winners Of 4th Dubai Smartpreneur Competition

Denarii Cash, a mobile application helping overseas workers to send money to the Philippines won first place at the 4th Dubai Smartpreneur Competition.

Arabee, a high specification platform providing an online multi-format Arabic language programme won second place, followed by Xpence, a digital-only intelligent business bank account designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs winning the third prize.

The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced the top three winners of the 4th Dubai Smartpreneur Competition on Tuesday, April 30, during the closing ceremony of the Enterprise Agility Forum 2019 in Dubai after the top 10 finalists made their final pitches to an expert panel of judges.

More than 250 smart business ideas were submitted in the fourth cycle of the competition which fell under the categories of blockchain, artificial intelligence and digital transformation. A total of 50 submissions were initially shortlisted before the top 10 finalists were selected.

The annual competition, organized by the Dubai Startup Hub in cooperation with Smart Dubai, is designed to empower entrepreneurs and facilitate their contribution towards Dubai’s Smart City vision as well as in the Dubai Government’s strategy and plans to establish the city as a prime international destination for innovative startups.

His Excellency Majid Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry presented the winners with their prizes in the presence of business leaders and representatives from Dubai’s entrepreneurial community.

He shared that this latest cycle of the competition saw a 217% surge in the number of international submissions compared to the previous edition.

In addition to the UAE, the competition attracted smart business concepts related to blockchain, artificial intelligence and digital transformation from 19 countries in 2019, up from six countries in 2018, reflecting Dubai’s increasing attractiveness as an innovation hub and preferred market for international startups.

Stressing the significance of the Dubai Smartpreneur Competition as a platform for startups to develop and test out smart solutions and business concepts, H.E. Al Ghurair described the contest as one of the most successful initiatives of Dubai Startup Hub to nurture and develop Dubai’s entrepreneurial eco-system.

“Over 1,600 smart business ideas have been submitted to Dubai Smartprenuer competition since its launch, and we continue to see positive changes as the quality and calibre of applications and participants increases with every new cycle,” H.E. Al Ghurair said.

“The benefits of participating in this unique programme go far beyond the recognition of winning, and extend to the training, development, mentorship, practical tips and rewarding experience that comes along with the pitching process.”

The winners received cash prizes totaling Dh150,000 and will have access to training opportunities and support to enhance their business.

First place winner Jon Edward Santillan of Denarii Cash, who won a cheque for Dh75,000, said the competition has provided his startup with an opportunity to collaborate with other entrepreneur’s in the UAE, network and building strong relationships, which can be useful for mutual guidance and referrals. He noted that Denarii Cash plans to change the way expats in the UAE send money and handle expenses in their home countries, adding that the app is designed to simplify people’s everyday lives by utilizing blockchain technology.

In addition to a cash prize of Dh50,000, first runner up Ferakh Lakhany, Co-founder of Arabee, added that the training and support offered during the competition was very useful in preparing pitches to potential investors and building new partnerships. He added that Arabee aims to become a preferred Arabic language solution in UAE schools.

Meanwhile, second runner up Saad Ansari, Co-founder and CEO of Xpence, said: “Our ambition is to be a global neobank for entrepreneurs. The UAE presents one of the best places in the region to launch Xpence and very soon Xpence will be available for entrepreneurs and startups across the Gulf.”

Sharing his tips for prospective future applicants, Ansari, who received Dh25,000 for his idea, stressed the importance of honing pitching and presentation skills, aligning business concepts with judging criteria and seeking support from the Dubai Startup Hub throughout the process.

Commenting on the initiative, Smart Dubai’s Director General Her Excellency Dr Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr said: “As the government entity tasked with spearheading and guiding Dubai’s transformation into a full-fledged and world-leading smart city, Smart Dubai is consistently looking to harness the potential of advanced technologies in the form of feasible, on-the-ground applications that benefit the community at large. The Smartpreneur competition is an ideal platform to do just that. It brings to the fore game-changing breakthroughs from innovative entrepreneurs, and rewards the most ambitious and implementable among them.”

Launched as an initiative of Dubai Chamber in 2016, Dubai Startup Hub is an interactive platform that connects startups, entrepreneurs, developers, venture capitalists and students, enabling them to learn about new opportunities and create new partnerships that stimulate economic growth.