Aldar launches second incubator programme
- Abu Dhabi-based property developer Aldar launches second edition of its Manassah programme, a six-month entrepreneurship incubator focused on sustainability and tech startups
- Winners of Manassah 2.0 will receive incentives worth up to Dh1 million
- This edition of Manassah is partnering with the Ministry of Culture & Youth, Khalifa Fund, the Department of Community Development, and the Brinc accelerator.
- Submissions are now open until 22 May.
Aldar Properties has launched the second round of its Manassah programme, a six-month entrepreneurship incubator aimed at nurturing entrepreneurial talent and advancing homegrown retail concepts in the GCC.
Held in partnership with startAD, the global startup accelerator powered by Tamkeen and anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi, Manassah 2.0 will build on the successes seen in the first round of the programme. Manassah 1.0 was originally targeted at UAE-based SMEs operating within the retail, café and restaurant space, however, the second round will be open to a broader range of retail businesses including technology-enabled startups and projects driving sustainability from across the GCC. Winners of Manassah 2.0 will receive financial contributions worth up to AED 1 Million including a space at an Aldar retail destination. Retail tech startups will also benefit from opportunities to pilot their solutions with Aldar Properties.
Manassah is an Aldar Youth Council initiative first submitted as part of Aldar’s Ibtikar challenge, an internal innovation programme that encourages employees to take an active role in Aldar’s future growth and direction. Aldar Youth Council was set up in 2018, with the aim to actively empower Aldar youth, unlock their full career potential, and engage with other Youth Councils across the country.
Manassah 2.0 is welcoming submissions across two main categories, Retail SMEs such as cafes, restaurants, services and sustainable solutions, and Retail Tech such as e-commerce and sustainability-focused tech applications. Submissions are now open and the deadline is set for May 22.
Alongside the Manassah incubator, Aldar is launching an exclusive youth-focused initiative through its Aldar Academies. Manassah Youth will develop the next generation of regional entrepreneurs through a dedicated training programme focused on finding solutions to complex problems and turning concepts into viable commercial strategies. This edition of Manassah also brings together the Ministry of Culture & Youth, Khalifa Fund, the Department of Community Development, and the Brinc accelerator as partners that will empower startups with network access, and business advancement opportunities.
“Through our partnership with the programme, we aim to encourage entrepreneurship within the creative economy and provide new opportunities for creatives and innovators. One of the Ministry’s primary goals is to help increase the contribution of the Cultural and Creative Industries to the country’s GDP. The Creative Economy has become a key driver of economic growth across the globe, including our region,” Deputy Undersecretary for the Cultural and Creative Industries Sector, Ministry of Culture and Youth, Sheikha Alia Khalid Al Qassimi said, adding that the Ministry is delighted to extend its support, particularly in light of the importance given to SMEs in the cultural and creative industries.
Saoud Khoory, Chief Retail Officer, Aldar Investment, said: “The success of the first cycle of Manassah, which brought three retail concepts to life at Aldar’s Mamsha Al Saadiyat, demonstrates the abundance of talent we have in the UAE and wider region. Innovation is key to driving the future of the retail sector in the UAE, and we at Aldar are committed to playing an active role in accelerating this growth through investing in concepts that reimagine and redefine the customer journey. The combination of the Manassah programme and Abu Dhabi’s intrinsic entrepreneurial spirit places the emirate in a great position to capitalise on the opportunities that this growth provides. As Manassah continues to develop and evolve, we are able to build a home-grown innovation ecosystem that supports retail entrepreneurs and SMEs across the UAE.”
startAD and Aldar will support participants in the curated incubation programme by providing them with the necessary tools to advance, scale, and launch their ventures. As part of the programme, accepted businesses will receive training and mentorship from the best local and global entrepreneurship, retail, and tech experts.
Ramesh Jagannathan, the Managing Director of startAD and also the Vice Provost of Innovation at NYU Abu Dhabi commented, “The past 12 months have been challenging for the retail sector, however, this has opened up many new opportunities. In two short years, by 2023, retail in the GCC is estimated to grow to USD 308 Billion. Manassah is cultivating a community of entrepreneurs that can redefine the global retail landscape to meet evolving customer needs. Today, UAE is the fifth largest retail destination in the world. The resounding success of the first edition of Manassah echoes the drive of our regional entrepreneurs. We are also inspired by the phenomenal gender inclusivity we saw with 83% of the finalist businesses being founded by female entrepreneurs and 67% of the winners having an Emirati woman as the founder.
For a retail entrepreneur in the GCC, this is the right place and the right time. Aldar and startAD invite you to take advantage of Manassah - the unique opportunity to get ahead of the market impacted by the pandemic, and overcome scalability challenges through the right support, resources & partners.”
After 150 submissions, Manassah 1.0 saw three concepts, Coffee Architecture, Alkalime and Wake n’ Bake, chosen as the winners of the first cycle of the competition, receiving equity-free incentives worth up to AED 1 million and a turnover rent deal for one year at Aldar’s Mamsha Al Saadiyat. Coffee Architecture is a speciality coffee house built by the first female Emirati certified Q grader and is designed around minimalism, passion, art and love in Abu Dhabi; Alkalime is a feel-good café concept offering customers healthy, nutritious and tasty food and drinks in a relaxing and eco-friendly space; and Wake n' Bake is a home-grown bakery by a female Emirati chef that specialises in hand-crafted bread, custard doughnuts and other baked goods freshly made by hand.