Across the Middle East, startups have been overcoming cultural, political, and economical barriers to tap into technology and digital innovation. Some governments have been introducing initiatives to shift their traditional economic models to a digital economy and Kuwait has also been trying to diversify its oil-dependent economy. Will Kuwait, whose oil accounts for approximately 60 percent of its economy, be able to make the shift from oil to entrepreneurship? Rita Makhoul writes:
Kuwait’s Entrepreneurial Scene
On the entrepreneurial level, Kuwait’s entrepreneurship ecosystem has gained momentum since the announcement of the $7 Billion Kuwait National Fund for SMEs in 2013. The market has witnessed a surge in entrepreneurship support and institutions, funds, co-working spaces and angel investors.
The Kuwait entrepreneurship scene has had a great year, with the acquisitions of Carriage and Masbagti making headlines and inspiring new startups. A number of new funds, accelerators and support institutions have launched, and Kuwait is increasingly attracting the interest of regional and global investors.
Online food takeaway firm Delivery Hero, which sources have said is considering a flotation imminently, has acquired Carriage; the latest in a series of technology deals in the region for a rumored amount $200 million. If the rumored amount is true, this may be the highest IRR in the region to date. Carriage had received a seed capital fund of $1.3 million in January 2016 to kick-start the project, and Kuwaiti investors increased the funding again in May for an undisclosed amount. What’s interesting to note is that Rocket Internet has invested $613 million in Delivery Hero. Rocket Internet acquired Carriage’s main competitor, Talabat.com, in February 2015 for roughly $170 million.
However, Kuwait throws at its entrepreneurs a number of hazards to overcome, despite being considered one of the best places to do business and validate a tech startup; inherent bureaucracy, people’s mindset about entrepreneurship, limited VC funding, and lacking qualified candidates are all considered challenges.
ArabNet Kuwait will feature top investors highlighting their investment strategies and the market trends, and successful entrepreneurs sharing best practices for fundraising, team building and scaling.
Kuwait’s Online Influencers
Kuwait is famed for its youthful population; around 67 percent of the inhabitants are young, and the median age in the country is just 29. As a result, the nation scores one of the highest social media penetration rate globally – 96 percent. This makes the country home to the GCC’s most affluent online influencers.
Social Media penetration in Kuwait is at 96 percent and leading the MENA region on platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram. Kuwaiti publishers, agencies and brands are transforming their activities to keep up with online consumption habits, leveraging branded content and storytelling, as well as new technologies like native and programmatic. ArabNet Kuwait will shed light on best practices for content creation and distribution, as well as technologies that are reshaping marketing and the consumer journey.
Digital Commerce in Kuwait
Digital commerce is flourishing in Kuwait, with KNET processing over $1.6 Billion in online transactions in Kuwait in 2016. Banks, retailers, and services businesses are increasingly investing in digital innovation to meet consumer demands: 24/7, convenient and seamless across touch points.
Moreover, Kuwait’s banks are looking to fuel their success by investing in digital economy and new technologies, including contactless payments, to blockchain wallets, technology is rapidly transforming the banking sector. The resilient financial sector is expected to rise 3 percent in 2017, according to Gulf Bank.
ArabNet Kuwait will highlight the latest trends in e-retail and e-commerce – including omnichannel and on-demand strategies – as well as fintech and banking innovation – including mobile banking / payments and the future of the branch.
Over 60 Stellar Experts Coming to ArabNet Kuwait
ArabNet Kuwait offers a platform for stakeholders to discuss trends and developments across three major tracks- Adtech, Investment & Innovation, and Digital Commerce.
Here are just some of the speakers who will be at ArabNet Kuwait:
Fadi Ghandour, Executive Chairman of Wamda Group and Founder of Aramex. He is the most active angel investor in MENA, with many success stories like Maktoob and Careem.
Benjamin Ampen, Head of Revenue at Twitter MENA. Before that, he worked at Google for four years, where he spent his last years spearheading the business development team across the UK and EMEA region.
Kunal Kapoor, CEO and Founder of The Luxury Closet, a marketplace for luxury new and pre-loved items for top luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Cartier and Rolex. The company started in his own apartment, however now has close to 80 employees, across UAE, India and KSA, and raised over $10m from leading regional investors like MEVP, Wamda Capital.
The CEO and Co-Founder of Carriage, Abdullah Al Mutawa will be sharing the story of their journey to success and the reasons behind it. He studied Civil Engineering at Virginia Tech and worked at Schlumberger for a few years after graduating. Shortly after that he opened up his own restaurant in Kuwait City called the Stack, which led him to founding Carriage. Carriage was the first service of its kind in Kuwait, which combined online food ordering and delivery at the same time.
For more information on ArabNet Kuwait check out https://arabnet.me/conference/kuwait/. We’ll see you at the Arabnet Conference at Arraya Ballroom on Oct 17-18!