UAE: Thanks to an injection of funding and raft of government-sponsored incentives Jordan now has one of the fastest-growing start-up ecosystems in the Middle East.
A well-educated workforce and access to local and international funding have helped to create a “dynamic ecosystem” that makes it a strong location for start-ups, Ibrahim AlSafadi, CEO of Luminous Life+, which supports entrepreneurs through its incubator Jordan Start, told Arabian Gulf Business Insight (AGBI).
Investment in digital services and fintech services is a major part of Jordan’s 2025 national plan to accelerate growth and development.
Faisal Alarmouti, CEO of delivery platform Doorbox said that changes to the business environment helped drive his decision to launch a company this year.
“There has been a significant shift in mindset surrounding the potential for start-ups to succeed, with a growing number of success stories and a supportive community of entrepreneurs and investors,” he says.
The kingdom’s total start-up funding increased by 500 per cent in 2021 over the previous year, and the recent launch of the Jordanian Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship and its $100-million tech-focused venture capital fund is fostering a vibrant entrepreneurial culture.
It’s not all plain sailing, however. The fund will focus on high-growth technology companies with proven business models – a tall order for early-stage Jordanian start-ups that are seeking investment.
“The challenge is that a lot of capital being made available to these entrepreneurs is profit-driven, first and foremost,” says Karim Samra, founder of Changelabs, a social enterprise accelerator focused on the Middle East & Africa.
“They need to show potential exists for scalability, expansion and growth. But not all great businesses can do that.
“One solution is to lean on non-governmental organisations and charities that are not profit-driven to create a blended investment strategy that provides a first-round of funding before looking to the private sector for the second tranche,” Samra says.