Twenty shortlisted Jordanian startups pitched on Saturday 9 April, for the admission into the mentoring program “engage – participate – act!” by enpact. This 8-month long interactive & international mentoring program is being implemented for the second year in Jordan. The selection committee included Mr. Matthias Treutwein, enpact co-founder, Mr. Ziad Barouni, CEO and Founder of Snackable News, Mr. Majd Afaghani, Acceleration Manager at Oasis500, and Miss. Alaa Suleiman, enpact alumni and Co-founder of Masmoo3.
The non-for profit NGO enpact started its mentoring activities with two countries, Egypt & Tunisia, in 2013 – partially funded by the German Federal Foreign Ministry – to support local economic development through entrepreneurship in the MENA region. It expanded its mentoring programs in the MENA region to Jordan and Morocco and also developed three more pillars: startup incubation (with a newly launched coworking hub in downtown Tunis), indicators-based research into city-wide entrepreneurial ecosystems, as well as trade mission and market expansion trips for larger corporations.
This year, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, was receiving a 650% increase in applications in the country for its 2016 program, and over 500 applications across all of its project countries. The diversity of sectors represented at the pitch day ranged from ecommerce to media, education to transport, big data to lifestyle apps. During a long day the room was full of inspiring ideas, curiosity, good humour and respect amongst all startup founders as well as the selection panel.
It is true that the so-called `ecosystem´ for entrepreneurs in Jordan is relatively small and personal. Many of the country´s longest running startups came from similar beginnings, having been through similar programs and trainings, and know very well the unique market opportunities and challenges of operating a business here. Answering questions from Wamda and Venture journalists during the lunch break, many of the startups were enthusiastic about joining the enpact mentoring program due to its unique international networks, travel opportunities and sector-specific mentor expertise all with their own startup experience.