Many start-ups in the region have risen up to the challenges presented by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Several of these start-ups are the 2019 graduates of the C3 Social Impact Accelerator Programme powered by HSBC. The programme helps start-ups receive the tools they need to thrive in the global economy.
Such cases include last year’s winner, Egypt-based e-health start-up, Chefaa, which is now fulfilling triple the number of orders it was receiving before the coronavirus lockdown was imposed.
InnoTech, an Omani based 3D printing EdTech start-up, has completely pivoted operations. It is utilising its 3D printing capabilities to manufacture medical equipment, to ensure the country is well equipped as international supply chains are disrupted.
Yet another example includes Kuwait based e-learning start-up, MyU, which supports schools and educational institutions in continuing teaching online. The start-up helps make the process, which is already difficult, easier on teachers, students, and parents.
The 2020 edition of the programme, which is now open, has attracted over 600 applicants from eight countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (MENAT) region.
Of the staggering number of entrants, 24 finalists have been carefully shortlisted following a rigorous selection process by evaluators from HSBC, Bain & Company, and C3.
Following the programme’s qualifying criteria, all the selected start-ups are contributing significantly to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. They are also revenue generating, and are profitable or have a clear profitability path.
Due to the ongoing global pandemic and the imposed travel bans and restrictions on hosting events, this year’s arrangement is slightly different. C3 and HSBC have decided to turn the one-week programme originally planned in Dubai, into a four-week online format.
Commenting on the challenges and opportunities of running the event online, Medea Nocentini, Co-founder and CEO of C3, said, “COVID-19 is pushing us to accelerate plans we had for quite some time, to further boost the effectiveness of our programme.” Nocentini added, “Hosting lectures and workshops online over a longer period of time will provide our entrepreneurs with increased expert accessibility and give them a chance to better absorb critical learning material.”
The programme’s customised lectures and interactive online sessions are delivered by international trainers. They tackle topics such as Theory of Change, social impact measurement, and pitching to impact investors, over four weeks.
“We have given the online structure a lot of thought to ensure that the entrepreneurs get all the benefits they were hoping for from the programme, from engaging and insightful training, to networking with impact investors and likeminded entrepreneurs,” said Sabrin Rahman, Regional Head of Corporate Sustainability for MENAT at HSBC, MENAT, “We learnt a lot from last year’s programme, and are confident that the second edition of C3 will deliver an even better experience for our entrepreneurs.”
The programme’s finalists will undergo virtual board meeting simulations, and receive guidance on their pitch decks, as preparation for impact investors on the event’s final day in August. The winners of the pitch competition will receive an equity-free cash prize from HSBC.
Thanks to C3’s partnership with Bain & Company and Al Tamimi & Company, the pitch competition winners will also benefit from mentoring sessions where they receive one-on-one tailored pro-bono support. C3 also has a partnership with CNN Arabic, which will create further opportunity to raise awareness of the programme.