We take a look at some of the region's most exciting entrepreneurs
For centuries the Gulf region and entrepreneurship have gone hand in hand. We take a look at some of today's entrepreneurs who are making waves in the business world
JOY AJLOUNY & IDRISS AL RIFAI
The dynamic duo behind delivery app Fetchr enjoyed a landmark year, having raised $41m in Series B funding to help the country’s expansion into new markets. Billed as the next ‘desert unicorn’ (a Middle Eastern start-up worth $1bn or more), the tech company aims to solve the problem of unlisted addresses in emerging markets by providing a GPS-based delivery service that uses customers’ smartphones to pinpoint their location. With staff numbers growing by 100 per cent so far this year, and a range of new services launched, the co-founders have stated that the company could grow to 50 times bigger than it is today.
GEET BHALLA & DIGVIJAY PRATAP
In a bid to take the hassle out of booking a holiday, tech professionals Geet Bhalla and Digvijay Pratap launched HolidayMe in 2014, helping ease the entire process for travelers within – and to – the region. Investments of more than $11m have helped the online platform to develop its offering, providing users with the option to customise their own holidays with packages or bundle deals, or selecting the most appropriate activities, tours, transport and hotels for them. The website offers 300,000 hotels and 8,000 activities across 300 cities globally, and the company has offices in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and India, with plans to expand across the Middle East.
KATHARINE BUDD & IAN DILLON
Finance professionals Katharine Budd and Ian Dillon launched NOW Money – one of a new breed of ‘challenger banks’ that offer smartphone-only banking to people in the region who can’t afford the minimum deposit of Dhs5,000 to open a traditional bank account. With 26 million such people across the GCC, NOW Money’s potential customer base is huge. The mobile banking app offers direct access to a current account, debit card and remittance services, bringing financial inclusion to low income workers and empowerment to the unbanked. Not even two years old, the company has already won numerous titles at some of the region’s leading start-up competitions.
IBRAHIM COLAK & DUNIA OTHMAN
Over the course of the past four years, Ibrahim Colak and Dunia Othman have changed the face of home services with their company MrUsta. Founded by the duo after a frustrating experience with a faulty air conditioning unit, MrUsta is a platform for finding home service providers. Helping customers find the right people for their various jobs, and giving providers a means of pitching for particular work, the website features around 6,000 tradespeople across 250 categories, with jobs totaling a reported Dhs30m ($8.2m) happening through the portal per year – growing at 20 per cent per month.