Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 August 2020

Despite Covid-19, the Entrepreneurship World Cup will be bigger and better

The stage is being set for innovators humanity desperately needs in today's times

Entrepreneurship World Cup attracted more than 100,000 applicants in its inaugural edition last year. Courtesy Hub71
Entrepreneurship World Cup attracted more than 100,000 applicants in its inaugural edition last year. Courtesy Hub71

With people beginning to step outside their homes, some of them even travelling to their workplaces again, it looks like much of the world is gradually emerging from the coronavirus lockdown. That being the case, it is crucial for all of us to take the necessary precautions for our safety and well-being and those of others.

It is also important to understand that, even if the opportunity exists to return to the old ways of doing business, we must all strive to find new means of working and engaging with the world. This approach is not only for the purpose of self-preservation from a health standpoint, it is also about seizing the opportunities that become available to us.

For instance, a digital workaround – initially imagined to be a second-best facsimile of the "real thing" – has proved to be an effective way for many businesses to function. This goes to show that, in the aftermath of a crisis, some of the accompanying changes may be positive.

A video meeting via Microsoft Teams. Courtesy Microsoft
A video meeting via Microsoft Teams. Courtesy Microsoft

A case in point is the Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC), a global initiative that provides the stage for entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas and thereby connect with potential investors. The first edition was held last year and attracted participants from 187 countries.

While getting ready for the second iteration this year, we have had to innovate in order to make sure that the National Finals around the world, and the Global Finals held during the fifth Misk Global Forum not only go ahead as scheduled – despite the challenges posed by the pandemic – but also that they have a positive impact on the minds of young people keen to partake in it.

In fact, our motto for this year's World Cup is “bigger and better”. Whatever the hurdles, we believe we are going to achieve our goals, and the reason for our confidence is simple: we are embracing change.

For starters, we are going virtual. We have designed this year’s EWC in ways that it gives maximum exposure for the entrepreneurs to investors and experts. In fact, investors are expected to see even greater "global deal flow", which describes the rate at which business proposals are being received. We also have made the event more accessible to people around the world; it will genuinely be a "world cup".

In going virtual, we are taking care to ensure that the impact of face-to-face interactions won't be lost. We have included as many networking opportunities as possible. And our platform will provide attendees with a worm's-eye view of all who are present at the event – this won't simply be a cast of faceless thousands.

The human connection is vital to any kind of networking opportunity, so we are introducing one-on-one meetings and follow-up sessions. This is also because it is critical for prospective entrepreneurs and investors to be able to trust one another.

In a way the Entrepreneurship World Cup is less about winning – or even competing – than it is about building something new and promising for the future

The overarching purpose of such a meeting of minds is to spread a positive message in these troubling times.

While it seems that some economic shock brought about by the pandemic is inevitable and it is understandable many people are looking at the global markets with anxiety, the world will always be in need of innovators. In fact, with restrictions likely to continue on travel, gathering, and other simple facets of life and business – all of which our civilisation has taken for granted – we are going to need to find ways to work around our human limitations.

We have always strived to remind investors that there is no shortage of creative talent out there. Anyone from any part of the world can be creative and introduce an idea that could transform the world. It is our firm conviction that we are going to see start-ups emerging from the unlikeliest of regions around the world thanks to the EWC.

We therefore urge budding entrepreneurs to register for the EWC platform over the course of the next one month and start getting access to some of the amazing free services and "perks" to help push the needle forward on their own startup experience.

Whether you are an entrepreneur, an investor, or someone looking for inspiration, we look forward to seeing you online this summer and autumn at EWC 2020.

Shaima Hamidaddin is executive manager at Misk Global Forum and Abdulrahman Al Suhayaimi leads the Entrepreneurship World Cup for Misk

Updated: July 11, 2020 08:03 PM

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