Kuwait's Boubyan Bank launches DIFC-backed start-up accelerator

Ten companies from Kuwait, UAE and Saudi Arabia will take part in the 'intensified' initiative

Members of Boubyan Bank and DIFC FinTech Hive teams at the launch of the accelerator programme. Photo: Boubyan Bank
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Kuwait-based Islamic lender Boubyan Bank and the Dubai International Financial Centre's FinTech Hive launched a new accelerator programme that will support the development of start-up companies in the Gulf state and the wider region.

The Boubyan Accelerator Programme selected 10 start-ups from Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia to take part in the "intensified" initiative that will help them launch their projects, the bank on Wednesday.

The companies were selected from 250 applicants, and are involved in verticals such as financial technology, e-commerce and education technology.

They include Kuwait's Enabill, Kashkool Educational, Tdalal, Bookr, Punch App, Mnasati and Looksie, the UAE's Xpence and Edfundo, and Saudi Arabia's Money Loop.

The first cohort of participants will "continue their journey with the Boubyan Accelerator Programme. This "targets regional start-ups looking to expand and work in Kuwait, and aims to help them launch and accelerate their start-ups", said Abdulla Al Tuwaijri, chief executive of private, consumer and digital banking at Boubyan Bank.

"The programme aims at reinforcing Boubyan’s strategy towards leading the future of the financial sector in Kuwait.”

Growth in the start-up sector has accelerated in tandem with the expansion of digital in critical areas such as retail, services, e-commerce and governments.

It is hoped the sector can support Kuwait's economic recovery. The country exited a two-year recession in 2021 as its gross domestic product grew by 2.3 per cent, following a pandemic-induced 8.9 per cent contraction the year before, the World Bank said.

The Gulf nation is currently ranked eighth in the region's start-up ecosystem, but is an "ideal place" for companies looking to establish a base in the FinTech, software, data, e-commerce and retail sectors, the data platform StartupBlink said.

Kuwaiti start-ups raised more than $16 million in seed and pre-Series A funding in 2022, data from Dubai-based venture firm Wamda Capital showed.

Video: Startups in MENA are much higher than people realize

Video: Startups in MENA are much higher than people realize

Boubyan and DIFC FinTech Hive signed an initial agreement to develop the Boubyan Accelerator Programme last December.

A number of investors have committed to supporting the initiative, Boubyan said.

DIFC FinTech Hive is the one of the largest FinTech accelerators in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, and has teamed up with national and international entities to support start-ups.

Last month, it linked up with Emirates NBD, Dubai's biggest bank by assets, and US technology company Microsoft to launch a 10-week global accelerator programme for metaverse start-ups in the emirate.

Updated: September 14, 2022, 10:21 AM