UAE
BusinessRole ModelsSocial EntrepreneurshipWomen-Led Enterprises

3 Reasons the Middle East is the Perfect Place for Startups

Italian-born, but bound to be a citizen of the world, Medea Nocentini currently heads corporate development at Dubai TV network OSN. Three years ago, as she was looking for volunteering opportunities in the UAE, she found herself at a dead-end road. So she decided to help in what she did best: business consulting, for free.

“The rumor started to spread, so I thought of a speed-consulting event to gather other friends who were also interested in helping entrepreneurs”. Today, her social enterprise Consult and Coach for a Cause (C3) counts with over 1,000 members who believe in the social business model and receive requests from across the Middle East and Africa. Barakabits sat with her for some insights on socializing business in the Arab world.

1) Was there something special about the UAE that pushed you towards social entrepreneurship?

I have been always intrigued by how businesses can solve socio-environmental issues. But the thing about the Middle East is that so much can be done in education, health care, waste management, energy. This poses enormous business opportunities.

I would say there are three main factors in the region: There is a need, on the one hand, of support in the environmental and social sector, and there is also a great desire to do things. Think about this: 60% of the population in the Arab world are under 30, and a large percentage are unemployed. So if I am young, unemployed, with a great desire to act, and have the chance to solve social problems in front of my eyes, all I need is to find a business model that can address them. Crises push people to reinvent themselves, which means this is a perfect place for startups.

2) You have supported over 250 entrepreneurs at C3. Is there any particular project that is close to your heart?

I would say our favourite is Zeinab from Palestyle, who makes fashion accessories and clothes, embedding Palestinian embroideries produced in refugee camps in Lebanon. These are products that you can see even Eva Longoria wearing.

3) How does the C3 model work? How do you finance it?

When we started, I financed C3 with personal savings. Now we have a revenue stream that comes from minimal entrepreneur fees, which are about 50 euros a year, but we are also exploring other potential sources for the future, such as referral fees for experts or investors and corporate training programs.

For more information: Visit Consult and Coach for a Cause‘s website.

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Valentina Primo

Journalist, globetrotter, and determined idealist. Since Valentina left her home country of Argentina, she has searched for ways to build bridges between cultures and foster dialogue. Her previous work in international organizations in Italy and Germany fed her passion for the world of development, while her 8-year journalistic experience in Argentina and Egypt increased her curiosity for everything that challenges the stereotype. She holds a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Peace Studies with a specialization in Human Rights.

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