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MENA 100 Business Plan Competition

All you need to know about MENA 100 Business Plan Competition - how to apply, why to participate, rules and eligibility criteria and more.
Launched in 2009, the MENA 100 Business Plan Competition supports and inspires innovative entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa. MENA 100 rewards innovative and feasible business ideas and connects the entrepreneurs behind them with sources of finance and business contacts in MENA and OECD economies. MENA 100 also encourages entrepreneurial spirit by putting regional talent into the spotlight and by exposing outstanding business initiatives.

The MENA 100 Business Plan Competition is co-organised by the MENA-OECD Investment Programme, through the MENA-OECD Enterprise Financing Network and the MENA Centre for Investment, and in partnership with the Islamic Development Bank, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation and the Bahrain Development Bank.

Applications to the 2011-12 edition of the MENA 100 Business Plan Competition are now open until January 16th 2012. We welcome applications for projects to be implemented in the following countries:

Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Please read carefully the rules and eligibility criteria to participate in the MENA 100 Business Plan Competition.


REASONS TO PARTICIPATE

The MENA 100 Business Plan Competition rewards high potential business ideas with cash and in-kind awards. It also provides a platform for connecting promising MENA entrepreneurs with sources of financing.

The best three teams participating in the competition are awarded cash prizes at the final event. The total prizes to be awarded in the 2011-12 edition will amount to USD40 thousand.

First prize: US$ 25 000
Second prize: US$ 10 000
Third prize: US$ 5 000

Participant entrepreneurs also have the opportunity to meet with financers such as business angels and representatives of financial institutions during the MENA 100 Market Place, which is organised in parallel to the MENA 100 Day. The Market Place also gives an opportunity to establish business contacts with entrepreneurs and business people from the MENA region and from OECD countries.

For MENA entrepreneurs, participating in the MENA 100 Business Plan Competition is not only a chance to obtain financing for their promising ideas (either in the form of awards or in the form of investments from business angels and other financers). It also represents an opportunity to get the advice from business experts in the MENA region and in OECD countries through their mentoring support.

For MENA 100 mentors, jurors and partners the competition provides a unique and hands-on approach to get in direct contact with talented MENA entrepreneurs and to contribute to the promotion of entrepreneurship in the MENA region.

The primary objective of the MENA 100 business plan competition is to encourage existing and inspire potential entrepreneurs and connect the 100 best of them in the Middle East and North Africa region with potential sources of finance to generate business transactions.

Recognizing the need to foster entrepreneurship and to encourage the expansion of the private sector and economic growth through an awards programme, this project emerged to contribute to working towards the achievement of the previously mentioned objectives by bringing together MENA and OECD know-how, skills and investors.

Fostering entrepreneurship and promoting the development of small and medium-sized enterprises are widely recognised as important drivers of economic and social progress. SMEs and start-ups are linked to employment creation, income generation and economic diversification. They are also associated with skills development, innovation and increased competitiveness. The need for SME and entrepreneurship development is especially relevant in the MENA region, where young and expanding populations require the creation of more and better jobs and where economic diversification and increased competitiveness require enterprise development.

The MENA-OECD Investment Programme and the MENA Centre for Investment contribute to these efforts through a number o activities, one of them being the MENA 100 Business Plan Competition, launched in 2009 through the MENA-OECD Enterprise Financing Network and in co-operation with the Islamic Development Bank and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

The MENA 100 Business Plan Competition’s overarching goal is to promote entrepreneurship and to inspire potential entrepreneurs in the 19 MENA economies participating in the MENA-OECD Investment Programme (Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen). The Competition also aims at connecting promising business ideas with sources of financing and business contacts and to put regional talent into the spotlight by exposing outstanding business initiatives.


The 2011-12 edition of the MENA 100 Business Plan Competition is now open. Applications can be submitted until 16 January 2012 at 5pm, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain time. To apply you will need to register by using the login area at the right side of this webpage. After registering, you will receive an email with your access credentials (user name and password). Since this is an automatically generated email it may be identified as spam, so please check your junk mail folder if you do not receive the email.

The application form is structured in six sections requiring different types of information on your project or company. The maximum grade is 100 points, divided in the following way:

General information about the management team (not graded);
The profile of your project or company (5 points);
A description of the products or services that your company will provide (15 points)
An outline of your market and marketing strategy (30 points);
A description of the innovative character of your project (20 points)
An outline of the human and financial resources (30 points).
You will be able to work on your application in one or more sessions. For this, you have to log-in into your account and save the changes you have made before logging-out. Once you have completed your application you can submit it by hitting the “submit” button at the end of the form.

Please note that the information provided in your application will not be shared with other parties and will only be used for the purpose of evaluating the applications and producing aggregate information about the participants such as number of applicants, gender, country of residence, etc. Any information made publicly available will only be shared in an aggregate and not individual form. Specific information about projects would only be made available upon the consent of participating teams.

The MENA 100 Business Plan Competition is structured in three phases:

In Phase 1 promising and innovative entrepreneurs from Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen are invited to submit their applications through this website. The applications are pre-screened for compliance with the eligibility criteria and are evaluated and scored by a group of jurors. Based on those scores, a group of applications are selected to continue in the next phase.

In Phase 2 the selected teams are required to prepare full business plans with detailed information on their projects. The elaboration of business plans is made with the support of volunteer mentors in MENA and OECD economies. Once the business plans are completed and submitted, a second group of jurors assesses and scores them. The scores obtained by the teams are the base for the selection of finalists.

In Phase 3 finalists are invited to present their projects in the MENA 100 Day. Prior to the final, the finalists attend a special coaching session aimed at strengthening their presentation skills, their elevator pitches and their investment readiness. During the MENA 100 Day the finalists give an oral, 10 minute presentation in front of a panel of jurors. The presentations are followed by a 10 minute Q&A session. Based on the presentations and on the responses to the questions the final panel of jurors score the finalists in a closed working session. The scores obtained by the finalists in their written business plans and in their oral presentations are the base for announcing the three final winners, who are awarded cash prizes.
SELECTION PROCESS

The best three projects per economy will be selected, based on the average scores given by the jurors and as long as those projects obtained a minimum score (e.g. grades in the third or upper quartile). This is to avoid the selection of low quality projects from economies submitting very few applications while leaving aside higher quality projects from economies with higher submission rates. This will help to ensure higher quality and higher economy representation.

If less than three projects are selected for any specific economy (for instance if less than three projects were submitted or if they were of low quality), then the remaining projects to complete the three will be selected from the higher scored submissions from other countries/economies. Hence, the selection will be based following two principles, the first based on the country or economy and the second on the grade obtained by an application.

The selected projects to continue to phase 2 of the competition will be announced shortly after the evaluations by jurors and will be contacted directly by the MENA 100 team.

The criteria for the selection of full business plans will be published later.

Rules and Eligibility Criteria:

Nationality and team composition

Applicant teams should have at least two members and at least half of the members should be nationals from one of the following economies: Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Non-nationals from those economies may be members of the management team and participate in the elaboration of the business plan; however, only nationals from those countries can be team leaders and can be invited to present the plan in the final event of the competition. Only nationals from those countries can be named chief executive officer (or equivalent) in the project.

For the sake of simplicity in communications, teams must designate only one team leader, who will be the main contact point between the team and the organisers of MENA 100.
The composition of a team may change during phase 2 of the competition as long as the team keeps at least two members and at least half of those members are nationals of one of the 19 economies listed above. The composition of a team cannot change after phase 2.
Women entrepreneurs are especially encouraged to apply; however, gender is not an eligibility criteria and gender composition is not considered for the participation and judgement of projects.
Nature of the projects


Only projects established or to be established in one or more of the 19 economies mentioned above are eligible to participate. The operations of a project can involve other countries not mentioned above; however, preference will be given to projects for which the main or initial target market is one or more of those economies.

The competition is targeted to projects in the early stages of their development. This comprises projects in seed, start-up or early growth. Existing companies that were registered or that booked revenue more than two years previous to date of the opening of the call for projects are not eligible to compete. For the 2011-12 edition of MENA 100, projects that have been registered or that have booked revenue before November 2009 are not eligible to participate.

Buy-outs and franchises are not eligible to participate. Other than those, the MENA 100 Business Plan Competition is not addressed at any particular kind of business or economic activity; however, the organisers reserve the right to disqualify any entry at any stage of the competition if the project is not deemed to correspond with the objectives of the competition.
All applications must be for profit projects and must be seeking external capital (equity or debt). Applicants must prove that their projects need external sources of funding and that they are not able to fund the totality of their projects with own funds. A formal sworn statement may be requested by the organisers of the competition.
All entries must be planned to be formally registered. The award of any cash prize under the competition will only be disbursed after the winning teams have formally registered the firm. The shareholders of the company will be clearly identified in the business plan and will correspond to those named in the register procedure.
The awards will be made by cheque payable to the company and not to individuals. Hence, the teams will only be allowed to cash the prize when the company is registered. If needed, an advance of the prize will be granted to cover the expenses of registration. The grant of this advance and the amount will be decided by the organisers of the competition. The balance of the prize will be paid after the company has been registered.
Participation in other competitions


Teams having won any prize in previous editions of the MENA 100 Business Plan Competition or any other competition are not eligible to participate.

Applicant teams having been selected to participate in the third phase of previous editions of the MENA 100 Business Plan Competition are still eligible to participate in the current edition. However, preference will be given to projects participating for the first time in the third phase. Teams having participated in a MENA 100 third phase before will have to be considered as outstanding by the scores given jurors.

All other teams having participated in previous editions of the MENA 100 Business Plan Competition and not having passed to the third phase are welcome to apply and will compete under the same basis as new teams.
Applicants must meet all these requirements and rules to participate at all stages of the competition. Any application can be excluded by the organisers at any stage of the competition.

A MENA 100 board has been established to rule final decisions in case of controversy. Any entries for which compliance with eligibility criteria and rules are unclear or vague will be submitted for the decision to the MENA 100 board. The rule of the board will be definitive.

Innovation

Innovation is a desirable quality in all applications. Although the concept of innovation is broad, those teams convincing the jury of the innovativeness of their ideas in the following lines will have a higher chance to succeed in the competition:


Product innovation is the introduction of a good or service that is new or significantly improved with respect to its characteristics or intended uses. This includes significant improvements in technical specifications, components and materials, incorporated software, user friendliness or other functional characteristics.

Process innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved production or delivery method. This includes significant changes in techniques, equipment and/or software.

Marketing innovation is the implementation of a new marketing method involving significant changes in product design or packaging, product placement, product promotion or pricing (for example, marketing innovations include significant changes in product design that are part of a new marketing concept and that refer to changes in product form and appearance that do not alter the product’s functional or user characteristics).
Organisational innovation is the implementation of a new organisational method in the firm’s business practices, workplace organisation or external relations (for example, the implementation of new practices to improve learning and knowledge sharing within the firm such as establishing databases of best practices, lessons and other knowledge; or the first introduction of management systems for general production or supply operations, such as supply chain management systems, business reengineering, lean production, and quality-management systems).

These definitions of innovation are taken from the OECD-Eurostat (2005) Oslo Manual: Guidelines for Collecting and Interpreting Innovation Data. Third Edition. Paris.

Innovation is not considered as a rule in the MENA 100 Business Plan Competition. However, those teams proving the innovativeness of their proposals in one or more of the previous points will be judged as better fit to the achievement of the overall objectives of the competition. Also note that, from the previous points, an innovative project is not necessarily related to the use or development of advanced technology.

MENTORS AND JURORS:

One of the main impacts of the MENA 100 Business Plan Competition is to provide promising and innovative MENA entrepreneurs with the opportunity to benefit from the advice and experience of volunteer mentors and jurors. The mentors support the participants in the preparation of their business plans whereas the jurors not only provide the basis for the selection of the best projects but also give important advice on the strengths and areas for improvement of the projects.

Mentors and jurors participating in the 2010 MENA 100 Business Plan Competition were experienced professionals working on a voluntary and independent basis. Many of them are members of the MENA-OECD Business Council and the MENA-OECD Women Business Forum. A full list of mentors and jurors of the 2010 edition of the competition and their bios is available at the “publications and other material” section in this website.

The list of mentors and jurors for the 2011-12 edition of MENA 100 will be published in this website.

For more information, please visit www.mena100.org