Wa’ed launches nationwide road show to identify, fund next generation of transformative Saudi start-up entrepreneurs

June 16, 2021

RIYADH — Wa’ed, the entrepreneurship arm of Aramco, Wednesday launched a national search to find and fund a new generation of Saudi entrepreneurs at a series of high-profile road show events to be held in six cities across the Kingdom.

The Wa’ed Entrepreneurship Roadshow will run from September through December and make stops in Jubail and Yanbu, Riyadh, KAUST north of Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah. The events will combine elements of start-up “shark tank” pitch competitions with high-level expert discussions about the state of entrepreneurship in the Kingdom.

The shows are designed to identify and finance a new generation of Saudi entrepreneurs whose game-changing ideas have the potential to open economic horizons in the Kingdom, supporting digitalization of industry and creating new jobs for Saudis.

“Wa’ed has come a long way since 2011 to support talented Saudis to help them turn their business ideas into real drivers for growth and innovation,” said Amin Nasser, the Aramco Chief Executive.

“But the next 10 years will be even more crucial for our entrepreneurial ecosystem as the pace of transformation in-Kingdom accelerates with opportunities emerging in new business growth sectors such as technology, e-commerce, and renewable energy.

“That’s why the roadshows by Wa’ed in six cities across the Kingdom is important to make the most of these opportunities to nurture and enable a more vibrant entrepreneurial culture in Saudi Arabia.”

Wa’ed has up to SR100 million at its disposal to disburse in loans and venture capital investments should it identify enough qualified entrepreneurs whose business ideas are unique, fill existing gaps in the Saudi economy and are commercially feasible.

Applicants ultimately selected by Wa’ed can qualify for individual venture capital investments of up to SR19 million each and no-collateral business loans of up to SR5 million, as well as Wa’ed’s incubation and mentoring services.

Wa’ed will open the online application process for all Saudi-based entrepreneurs on Wednesday, June 16, and a select group of finalists will be invited to participate in the road shows. Applications by entrepreneurs can be made at:

The shows will focus on a range of economic sectors: technology, Fintech, agri-tech, environmental technology, industrial applications, reverse engineering, drones, petrochemicals, supply chain and tourism, among others.

The road shows are being supported by Wa’ed partners including the Royal Commission for Jubail & Yanbu, Monsha’at, the Saudi General Authority for Small- and Medium Enterprises, Namaa Almunawarah and Wadi Makkah.

Created in 2011, Wa’ed is an essential supporter of the Saudi start-up ecosystem. Over the last decade, Wa’ed has deployed more than $100 million in venture capital investments and loans to more than 100 Saudi start-ups.

Wa’ed is the only no-collateral lender and largest institutional venture capital investor in Saudi-based start-ups.

Examples of transformative Wa’ed portfolio companies include Wahed, an Islamic investment company that created the world’s second-largest exchange-traded fund based on Islamic investing principles.

Golden Scent, the Middle East’s largest online retailer of scents and perfumes, and Ynmo, creator of the first Arabic-language instructional software for children with autism and learning disabilities, are also among 90+ companies receiving loans and venture capital investment from Wa’ed.

Wassim Basrawi, the Wa’ed managing director, said Wa’ed’s top priority is to fund Saudi entrepreneurs whose disruptive business ideas not only redefine markets but raise the quality of life for all Saudis. Wa’ed has set a goal to double its annual loan and venture capital deal volume by 2023.

“These road shows will do more than present Wa’ed and its unique end-to-end service offerings,” Basrawi said. “These shows are a coordinated effort with our partners to find and fund new entrepreneurs who will add value to the Saudi entrepreneurial ecosystem and accelerate the pace of economic diversification in the Kingdom.” — SG

June 16, 2021
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