Lebanese “Zoomaal” has been selected as one of the semi-finalist teams for this year’s MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab Region Start-Up Competition for the Start-up Track, a press release said Tuesday.
Abdallah Absi a web apps developer and a serial entrepreneur is on a mission to raise fund for projects in the Middle East through a new crowd-funding platform called “Zoomaal” which will be launched this month.
Abdallah recently spoke to us about the inspiration behind his project and what encouraged him to apply to the competition.
“I have always dreamt of a platform that would allow me to raise funds for my small projects in a mobilized way and when crowd funding became a global trend with successful models in the U.S. and UK, I saw a great opportunity to start the platform in the MENA region," said Absi.
"The Arab World needs a crowd funding platform more than any country in the world, we live in countries that have minimal spending on R&D, while there are hundreds of innovative projects that just need a little push. I have personally experienced the pain of not getting funded for at least 3 innovative projects that required less than $5,000 to make them come true and not having a crowd-funding platform really frustrated which is what inspired me to launch Zoomaal,” he added.
How it works
Zoomaal is an online crowd-funding platform that makes it easier and more organized for projects to raise funds from the crowds. Similar to the popular crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, Zoomaal is specifically aimed at projects in the Arab world with a mission to support and boost Arab creativity.
Anyone who has a creative project can post it on Zoomaal and raise funds online from the public in return for symbolic rewards. Project owners post their projects with a funding goal and a deadline to collect the funds. The project is then open to the public and if the project succeeds in raising the funds by the deadline, the funds get transferred to the project owner to proceed with is project. In case the project does not secure the funds by the deadline, the funds will be returned to those who contributed them.
Projects owners do not need to submit a business plan instead all they need is a video of themselves explaining the project with energy and passion After being funded on Zoomaal, projects owners will keep 100% of their projects and Zoomaal will only take a small commission from the amount raised to sustain the company.
Zoomaal’s social impact comes from the fact that it will be transforming concept projects into successful businesses in the region which will enhance job creation and will boost the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem. Current VC’s/accelerators support projects that have proven success models and rarely focus on small scaled projects. Zoomaal on the other hand can fund projects that require as little as $500 and go up to projects reaching $20,000.
On Participating in the MIT Arab Start-Up Competition
“It's really simple. Being part of a competition is one of the most effective ways to network because it gives you the privilege to bump into investors, partners, and clients. Add to that a $50,000 prize, plus the high-caliber judges, mentors, and CEOs. MIT BP Competition is one event no entrepreneur shall miss.” Says Absi.
“Zoomaal” will attend a two day workshop in Qatar in April 25 along with 49 other teams, where they will receive coaching, training and network with other entrepreneurs from the Arab region and meet the region’s major players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Semi-finalist ideas or startups in ICT, digital media, and mobile will automatically qualify for the Oasis 500 training and acceleration program http://www.oasis500.com/ , which is a six-day training program that covers all business aspects, including business modeling, financials, pitching, facilitation and marketing.
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