Zain Group, a leading mobile telecom innovator in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa, announced the opening of its Zain Innovation Center (ZINC) in Kuwait. Located within the Zain Head Offices, ZINC Kuwait falls within the company's youth empowerment initiative led by Zain Vice-Chairman and Group CEO, Bader Al-Kharafi. The co-working hub is the first of its kind in Kuwait provided by a corporate entity and aims to bolster youth entrepreneurship and the country's startup ecosystem.
The inauguration ceremony of ZINC took place on Sunday May 6 that saw the attendance of Kuwait's Minister of Commerce and Industry, Khaled Al-Roudhan; Bader Al Kharafi and other Zain senior management plus successful identities from the Kuwait and regional digital ecosystem.
ZINC Kuwait is set to encourage young minds to think and act creatively outside of the norm in an open, supportive environment. The design of the hub utilizes light and is deliberately modern and sleek, with the view to creating the right atmosphere for entrepreneurs to generate new ideas and develop them into viable opportunities.
Apart from the inspiring co-working hub facilities, ZINC will provide aspiring entrepreneurs and startups access to experts in various fields and advice from mentors from the region and across the globe, including from Zain senior personnel and associated technology partners.
Bader Al-Kharafi commented, "The generation of successful innovative ideas is likely to become one of the greatest differentiators between societies that progress into the future. We are well-aware that there is a strong local entrepreneurial culture that is just waiting to be tapped into and we are excited to be fostering and unlocking opportunities for young Kuwaiti professionals."
Al Kharafi added,"The ultimate aim of ZINC is helping young innovators turn their ideas into productive projects that would be marketed locally, regionally, and internationally. We plan to link them with angel investors and large technology companies, enhancing Kuwait's position as a fertile oasis for entrepreneurs and a major hub for the incubation of startups in the region."
The ZINC initiative was first launched in Jordan, where it has proven to be an exceptional success where the creative startup culture, development of innovative ideas by entrepreneurs and successful commercial launch of many young Arab entities is booming. In recent years, many dignitaries toured ZINC Jordan and met with startups and shared their experiences, including visits from royalty of the likes of HM King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan as well as the Prince of Wales and Amazon's Jeff Bezos.
Additionally, over recent years, Zain Group and other country operations have been very active in the entrepreneurial and digital startup ecosystem across the region partnering key events like the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab Startup competition held in various regional capitals that sees over 5,000 startup applications annually. Also in Sudan, the company partners in driving the success of the country's Global Entrepreneurship Week, while in Lebanon, ‘touch', the mobile operator managed by Zain, recently opened an innovation lab to bolster the local ecosystem. In Bahrain, Zain holds a weekly event every Thursday allowing the Kingdom's aspiring youth to showcase their new startups ideas.
Furthermore, in Kuwait, the company has partnered with the Tmkeen Kuwait annual Youth Empowerment Symposium since its introduction in 2012; and holding four annual Zain Great Idea programs in Kuwait that sees 10 Kuwaiti teams undergoing a thorough incubator process travelling to Silicon Valley and more. Also, the company partners with INJAZ, to deliver educational programs on entrepreneurship, financial literacy and work readiness for the country's youth as well as partnering Nuqat, a non-profit organization, in an innovative new educational and creative program.
Additionally, in Kuwait this year, Zain launched its 3rd Generation Z program for high caliber Kuwaiti graduates aimed at enhancing their digital skill sets and bridging the gap between today's curricular and the future's unpredictable corporate environment.
Notably in 2017 across all operations, Zain Group launched Zainiac, an internal e-platform initiative created by employees where ideas are shared and solutions are created aimed at stimulating creativity within the company. To date, more than 100 initiatives and project ideas have come from Zain employees with the main aim of the initiative being to promote internal innovation and push employees to start new businesses, and hopefully become the next unicorns in our region.
The introduction of ZINC to Kuwait is another step forward by Zain aligning to its brand values and Corporate Sustainability objectives, as well as the company's active investment in delivering on its strategic digital lifestyle aspirations. Zain expects to attract major global pioneers and mentors from across the digital value chain to make appearances to ZINC and inspire budding entrepreneurs through presentations and workshops and much more.
To connect and promote ZINC activities to the local startup community, a ZINC Kuwait app was developed to facilitate such.