DHAHRAN: Saudi Aramco’s entrepreneurship arm Wa’ed launched its first roadshow event on Wednesday to discover and fund the next generation of Saudi entrepreneurs.
Wa’ed has up to SR 100 million ($ 27 million) to provide loans and venture capital investments to commercially viable businesses that would fill existing gaps in the kingdom’s economy.
With the aim of supporting groundbreaking ideas that create new jobs, the Wa’ed Entrepreneurship Roadshow will hold a series of events in six Saudi cities from September to December.
Jubail, Yanbu, Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca and Madinah will host the tour, which is organized in collaboration with some of Wa’ed’s key partners, including the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, Monsha’at, the Saudi General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises, the development company Namaa Almunawara and the investment company Wadi Makkah.
“These shows are a coordinated effort with our partners to find and fund new entrepreneurs who will add value to the Saudi entrepreneurial ecosystem and accelerate the pace of economic diversification in the kingdom,” said Wassim Basrawi, Wa’ed Managing Director.
Wa’ed’s goal is to look for bold ideas that have the potential to make a positive contribution to the development and diversification of the Saudi economy.
“70 of the 100+ startups we supported were the first of their kind and received their first investment from us, and that is exactly what we are aiming for now. excellent and not yet supported startups and ideas, ”added Basrawi.
On Wednesday, online applications should open to all business owners based in Saudi Arabia. After two selection rounds, successful applicants will be invited to the road shows in their cities, where startup pitch competitions in the style of the “shark tank” of television as well as industry discussions and debates take place.
The tour focuses on sectors such as financial, agricultural and environmental technology, industrial applications, reverse engineering, drones, petrochemicals, supply chain and tourism.
In addition to Wa’ed’s incubation and mentoring services, participants will receive either fast-track funding, including loans of up to 5 million and SR 75,000.
Amin Nasser, CEO of Aramco, said: “Wa’ed has come a long way since 2011 helping talented Saudis turn their business ideas into real drivers of growth and innovation.
“But the next 10 years will be even more critical to our business ecosystem as the pace of transformation accelerates in the kingdom and opportunities emerge in new business growth sectors such as technology, e-commerce and renewable energy.
“This is why Wa’ed’s roadshows in six cities across the kingdom are important to get the most out of these opportunities to promote and enable a livelier entrepreneurial culture in Saudi Arabia.”
All roadshow participants can join and benefit from Wa’ed’s Innovation Ecosystem Society with more than 1,500 local and international members and around 400 mentors.
Enriching events and meetings with inspiring speakers, as well as interview-based podcasts, workshops and webinars will start before the competition and last until the end of the program in order to add value to as many potential beneficiaries of the initiative as possible.
Through the program, Wa’ed intends to expand its portfolio more evenly across the country. Currently around 60 percent of its investments are in the Eastern Province, with the rest spread across the Kingdom.
Wa’ed is also committed to doubling its annual loan and venture capital by 2023 to support the Kingdom’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and with the pace of transformation and emerging opportunities in key sectors such as technology, e-commerce, and renewable energies.
Wa’ed currently supports more than 100 entrepreneurial companies in Saudi Arabia by providing financial support, guidance and tools to entrepreneurs with creative ideas and startups.
Saudi Aramco’s Entrepreneurship Center was founded in 2011 with the aim of promoting Saudi entrepreneurs and their businesses to develop and develop the Saudi economy. Since its inception, Wa’ed has invested more than $ 100 million.
It is the only unsecured lender and the largest institutional venture capital investor in Saudi startups.