Nine startups under the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) have forged connections with UAE-based investors at the Emirates Angels Open Day networking session, organized in partnership with nonprofit Emirates Angels Investors Association at the House of Wisdom. The event was designed to facilitate access to investments and connections to grow and fund their innovative ventures.
Sheraa’s startup founders operate in a cross-section of industries, including AI, healthcare, agri-tech, F&B, and wellness. The matchmaking opportunity enabled the angel-stage startups to benefit from the resources and expertise of Sheraa’s network of investors.
Impact-driven community of changemakers
Addressing the community of founders, investors and stakeholders at the event, Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa, said that the vision to build the startup ecosystem in Sharjah six years ago by fostering innovation and growth opportunities led to the growth of 114 startups raising USD 87 million in investments and USD 130 million in revenue over a five-year period.
Al Midfa added: “Building on Sheraa’s founder-first philosophy, we are committed to supporting the groundbreaking visions of our founders by connecting them with passionate investors and industry players in the region to raise investment to scale and build sustainable ventures. Facilitating their access to capital and support at the stage of growth when it is needed the most, makes the biggest difference in the entrepreneurial journey of our founders.”
Lauding the Emirates Angels community for bridging the gaps in angel-stage investment in the UAE and for being “true examples of leaders and enablers in the ecosystem”, the Sheraa CEO said: “Every founder present today has unique qualities that makes them successful – they have big ambitions, are passionate about the ideas they are working on; and have demonstrated the qualities of resilience in navigating the challenges during the pandemic.”
Supportive angel investor networks
In his address, Mohamed Al Owais, Board Member of Emirates Angels Investors Association, said that the entity was established in 2020 to accelerate the startup scene in the UAE by connecting founders with a network of passionate and active investors who can contribute to the early investment stage of startups in the region.
Hailing Sheraa’s efforts in establishing a supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem in the UAE, Jassim Al Rahma, General Manager of Emirates Angels Investors Association, said that the NGO was set up to fulfil the needs of supporting tech startups by facilitating access to funding via angel investors. “We are closing gaps in this sector and our goal is to both educate and create awareness amongst investors and entrepreneurs on angel investing and offer networking opportunities to connect angels with relevant startups.”
Sheraa’s founders who presented their startups at the event included Jalebi, a platform for purpose-built restaurant operating systems; Foloosi, a fintech solutions provider, Cupmena, an agri-tech startup; Bookends, a platform for buying and selling pre-loved books; and PharmaVgate Academy, an online academy for pharmacy professionals, pharmaceutical companies, and educational institutes.
Representing the wellness industry were Lizzom, a sustainable period care platform, and Mint Basil Market, a personalised wellness platform. Startups exploring the virtual worlds included Fifth Wall Immersive Media lab, a next generation media creator; and Outreal XR, which host 3D virtual events in the metaverse.
Following their pitches, Sheraa’s founders had one-on-one interactions with investors from Emirates Angels.