HSBC-backed sustainability-themed accelerator programme in UAE launches its fourth edition

HSBC-backed sustainability-themed accelerator programme in UAE launches its fourth edition

The C3 Impact Accelerator Programme, a UAE-based social enterprise supporting entrepreneurs across the Middle East, Africa and Turkey and backed by Europe's second-biggest bank HSBC, has announced the launch of its fourth edition that targets those who are contributing to at least one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

C3 – or Companies Creating Change – will shortlist 40 organisations from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Algeria and Turkey, which will have the opportunity to attend online workshops that will tackle foundational business topics with experts.

The programme will narrow it down to 20 finalists, who will participate in board meeting simulations with regional and international investors and connect with experts from relevant sectors.

“This programme is a showcase for social entrepreneurs who are innovating in fields such as environmental protection, healthcare, education and poverty alleviation, among many others, and driving the evolution of the ESG [environmental, social and governance] agenda across the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey,” said Sabrin Rahman, managing director and head of sustainability for Europe and the Middle East at HSBC.

At the end of the programme, the selected finalists will come to Dubai to pitch to investors and take part in the closing ceremony, where the winners will be announced. The deadline for submissions to participate is February 17.

A significant number of accelerator programmes in the Middle East have been launched in order to support the growth of entrepreneurs across various sectors.

On Thursday, Saudi Aramco's entrepreneurship arm Wa'ed partnered with FinTech Saudi and venture capital firm Flat6Labs to launch a 12-week accelerator programme to boost the growth of FinTech companies in the kingdom.

Last week, technology companies Google and Microsoft announced new developments in their respective start-up accelerator programmes for the region. Google said it selected 11 start-ups for the third Google for Start-ups Accelerator Middle East and North Africa event, while Microsoft, the world's biggest software company, concluded the first cohort of its GrowthX Accelerator programme in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office.

In December, Aldar, the UAE's biggest listed property company, unveiled the second cycle of its Scale Up accelerator programme, inviting companies that are digitising the real estate sector.

Start-ups in the Middle East and North Africa raised $206 million in December 2021 across 44 deals, a 27.5 per cent monthly decrease but a 215 per cent surge year-on-year, data from Dubai-based accelerator Wamda shows.

The majority of venture capital investment was concentrated in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain – together accounting for over 88 per cent of total funding activity last month. Saudi start-ups received the most investment at $99.5m. The kingdom, the UAE and Egypt attracted the most number of deals.

Winners of the C3 programme will receive equity-free cash prizes and pro-bono support from its partners, including consultancy Bain & Co, law firm Al Tamimi & Company and Amazon Web Services.

The 2020 cohort received more than 1,000 applications from 32 countries. From these, it selected 42 semi-finalists and 22 finalists, and declared three winners last July.

Previous programme participants have also made strides across different sectors. The UAE-based Desert Control, from the 2019 competition, raised $23 million in an initial public offering on Euronext Growth Oslo last June. Egypt's Chefaa, the winner in 2019, raised around $1.8m, while UAE-based Almentor secured $6.5m in 2021.