Before we take a deep plunge into 2015, Wamda is wrapping up its 2014 efforts by launching Traxn (pronounced traction), a new program, first of its kind in the region, designed to engage startups with some of the largest corporations.
Scaling in MENA is tough especially with the added frictions created by country boundaries. Large corporates and family offices have been operational in the region for years and overcame those challenges at one point in their life cycles. They possess powerful resources and accumulated knowledge, that can help startups access new markets and scale.
Meanwhile, corporations are becoming too large and slow to innovate. Young entrepreneurs with an innovative spirit and fresh ideas can bring a new perspective and boost their growth efforts.
Up until recently, startups and corporations were thought to speak different languages and interact together as if from two different generations. Today the scene is slowly changing, and both parties are in agreement that they have mutual benefits if they work together.
“There is no player better equipped to lead an entrepreneurship movement in the Middle East and North Africa than the private sector. It possesses the skills, the resources, the knowledge, the capital and the networks. It has a clear vested interest in enabling a healthy environment for private enterprise—the kind that supports social and economic equity—and in promoting the wellbeing of society at large,” says Wamda’s chairman, Fadi Ghandour.
Traxn falls directly into the same context of Corporate Entrepreneurship Responsibility (CER), a movement launched last year by Ghandour, to support and drive forward the entrepreneurial scene in the region. Zain and Aramex are the first to pilot Traxn and launch it under their CER activities. Zain has also launched a comprehensive CER effort earlier this year with the support of Wamda, you can apply to its Traxn program here.
From a Wamda Research Lab survey of over 700 MENA entrepreneurs, nearly 40% expressed an interest in partnering with a larger company to help them to scale, but only 10% had been able to develop such partnerships (these numbers are to be released in a report in 2015)
There is a big potential for corporates to help startups overcome their challenges.
In the same study, when asked about their high-level challenges to scale, 29% of entrepreneurs said that revenue generation was a top challenge and 20% said that expanding into new countries was a challenge. As for revenue generation specifically, the top challenge was marketing products and services, cited by 42% of entrepreneurs. The top challenge for expanding into new markets was cited as finding partners to facilitate expansion, as indicated by 47% of the sample.
To facilitate the interaction between startups and corporations, and help fill this gap, Wamda is launching Traxn as a program to accelerate high growth startups by leveraging corporations’ resources.
Traxn allows partner companies to strategically engage with startups in a deep and meaningful manner. Wamda would design, run and assess the program while tapping into selective corporate resources as needed.
A program of six weeks it includes:
- Access to Knowledge through workshops
- Private sessions with Corporate Executives
- Marketing through Corporate Partner's media outreach
- Business Development through partnership and joint product development
Traxn has already partnered with two corporations in the MENA region: Zain and Aramex.