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

Gulf Business - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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