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Despite being one of the fastest-growing urban economies in the region, this Arab city has often been overshadowed by its neighbors as an innovative destination for entrepreneurs to establish and expand their businesses. To highlight its unique advantages to up-and-coming startups, the city had to do something big. Tahseen Consulting was tasked with co-developing a distinctive initiative to position the city as a global hub for entrepreneurship.
Research has shown that entrepreneurship centers funded primarily by the private sector consistently perform better than government-led counterparts. We conducted extensive entrepreneurship ecosystem mapping to determine leading stakeholders in the business and academic communities who could increase local buy-in and contribute expertise to programming. This informed a precise targeting strategy for the institution’s board of advisors and fundraising partners.
Although the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the target city consisted of approximately 30 stakeholders, these entities lacked a unified vision and often implemented individual interventions rather than focusing on ecosystem-wide impact. We identified the services provided by all ecosystem players to position our client as a catalyst and convener who would be able to promote cooperation between ecosystem players to reduce institutional overlap and concentrate impact.
Despite their wealth of knowledge and on-the-ground insight, the private sector in the city was facing major challenges in implementing programs to enhance the access of SMEs to procurement opportunities. To tackle the issue, we worked to establish a committed group of first movers from within the business community to boost startup and SME access to private sector procurement opportunities through the MENA’s first private sector SME procurement set aside program.
While there is no one-size-fits-all model for building a competitive entrepreneurship ecosystem, this institution is catalyzing an inclusive dialogue where federal and local policymakers, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders can gather to discuss barriers and find solutions. As a key pillar of an emerging world-class entrepreneurship ecosystem, the institution is producing globally competitive, fast-growing companies that have raised over $37 million in investment, generated more than $24 million in revenue and created over 500 jobs.