Misk Foundation launches new programme to mentor Mena tech start-ups

Seedstars and Vision Ventures will co-invest $100,000 in participating start-ups on Saudi programme

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Saudi Arabia’s Misk Foundation launched its Growth Accelerator programme to support technology start-ups in the Middle East and North Africa that are looking to scale up business.

Misk will run the programme in partnership with Seedstars, a private group of companies in Switzerland, and Vision Ventures, a Saudi venture capital.

Seedstars and Vision Ventures will co-invest $100,000 (Dh367,250) in participating start-ups and also consider follow-on investments of up to $1 million. “The co-investment model gives start-ups two great institutions on their capitalisation table, access to the strong regional network and knowledge of [both] Vision Ventures and Seedstars,” said Kais Al Essa, founding partner and chief executive of Vision Ventures.

The focus of the accelerator is to help start-ups with viable products to deliver consistent high growth.

With three on-site bootcamps and a demo day in Riyadh, the programme keeps the enterprises close to customers while their owners receive coaching from in-house and external experts.

“Growth is a culture, a mindset and a methodology that needs to be implemented and that’s the main goal of the programme,” said Charlie Graham-Brown, chief information officer of Seedstars.

Misk is a charity organisation launched in 2011 by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The centre is focused on cultivating innovation, learning and leadership among Saudi youth. It has also established partnerships with international organisations to support young people worldwide.

To be eligible for the Growth Accelerator, tech start-ups should have raised funds of between $250,000 and $1m, and have more than $10,000 in monthly recurring revenue.

“We see a need to help start-ups make the jump to become ready for Series A [investment] rounds. We believe that the combined programme of investment and the know-how can make a real difference,” said Osama Alraee, entrepreneurship growth director at Misk Foundation.

The Growth Accelerator will run from September to December this year and the closing date for applications is July 21.