BIG by Orange program is a starting point for Jordanian startups projects

 

Turning creative ideas into successful projects with financial income and a positive impact on society is to be considered the main goal for all entrepreneurs around the world. Many Jordanian projects had this chance through Orange Jordan's Business Innovation Growth platform (BIG), which was launched in 2015, to enhance the capabilities of startups and innovators, to support them, and to spread the culture of entrepreneurship in the Kingdom. The most inspiring success stories that participated in BIG program are WaraGami, Arabot, Hareef, Fitticoin, and Aumet.

Away from the traditional way of using papers, Laith Abu Talib developed the WaraGami idea when he started to combine the Japanese Origami art with wrapping French paper as a hobby in 2014, to establish the first company specialized in paper arts in the Middle East. After joining the second season of BIG program, the company was able to benefit from BIG's environment and the connections opportunities to enhance its growth at an important stage to receive an investment from Oasis 500 and spread its products to train individuals to produce artistic papers across all ages and levels.

The company's efforts concluded with winning King Abdullah II Award for Youth Innovation and Achievement in its fifth session, were 362 projects participated, 10 of which qualified for the final stage, in addition to launching its first book for this art in Braille language in cooperation with "Ya Ounak" initiative to integrate individuals with visual impairment with the society, and sells its products today at more than 20 points in the local market and through Dumyah and Amazon website.

Arabot was established in 2016 by Abdullah Faza and Qais Hasan, as one of the companies enrolled in the 3rd season of BIG, and is now one of the leading companies in artificial intelligence by providing unprecedented products and services through the development of intelligent conversation robots in Arabic and English, aimed at improving the customer experience, automate tasks, and reduce costs, using Natural Language Processing technology (NLP).

Arabot's participation in BIG has had a positive impact on the company, providing opportunities for the development of its products and its future vision to expand its business, which led to offering its services to major companies and government institutions through various channels on the internet, messaging and social networking applications, and mobile Web, creating a reliable brand in the field of technological innovation in the region. Arabot recently signed a $1 million investment deal with the Riyad TAQNIA Fund (RTF), in which the capital will be used to continue regional expansion and invest in the development of the ChatBot platform and the Arabic NLP.

Arabot's idea of automating operations has grown to enable companies to automate thousands of conversations all at once, via AI technology, ensuring greater returns and lower operating costs, and proving that AI is key to creating exceptional and personalized experiences and adding real value to its customers across all platforms. Due to the rapid growth of BIG, it has been named one of the 100 Arab start-ups which are shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in the MENA region. The company was selected by the World Economic Forum (WEF), and Bahrain Economic Development Board from nearly 400 applicants hailing from 17 countries across the Middle East.

The fruits of participating in BIG was proved in Harreef.ai project enrolled in the sixth season, featuring a virtual assistant based on AI, it is a direct channel to communicate with hotel guests through smart chat, whether before or during their stay at the hotel. Harreef has successfully signed contracts with several prestigious hotels in Jordan and Lebanon to implement its products.

Harreef has benefited from the logistical support and guidance of the BIG platform while developing the marketing and strategic plans. The company continued its efforts to expand its markets across the region and globally, successfully delivering an innovative product that serves the needs of the market, facilitates the lives of users, and has been selected to participate in the Oasis II Fund and received an investment from Oasis500, known for its entrepreneurial support.

By joining the seventh season of BIG, Jordanian entrepreneurs Wathiq Al-Safarini and Hakam Al-Shami, have been able to take a confident step towards expanding the circle of FittiCoin, a Smart application that aims to encourage users to practice walking and jogging, in order to meet the challenges of contemporary fast-paced life, the app combines the number of steps taken for each user, to be redeemed as rewards from the app partners.

BIG allowed FittiCoin to get to know international companies and network with experts and organizations interested in exploring the app's potential, advising on marketing aspects and active appearance in the media, moving towards new experiences, first and foremost selecting the app to participate in the Oasis II Fund.

Given the importance of the health sector online, Yahya Aqel established Aumet to connect pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturers with distributors and institutions working in this field through a platform that serves as an intermediary between these parties internationally. The startup has benefited from the BIG program in its fourth season through technical support and networking opportunities. In the past ten months, Aumet has successfully concluded 30 distribution agreements worth $6 million covering 12 countries Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Yemen.

 

Aumet went globally after being selected from several projects around the world to receive financial fund from the French program – French Tech Ticket, where US companies such as 500 Startups, Right Side Capital, and Plug and Play invested in the company, apart from being selected as one of the 100 startups that will form the Industrial Revolution in 2017 and 2019 by the World Economic Forum and as one of the top 4 startups in Jordan by Bank Al Etihad.

The program achieved impressive results in five years, most importantly supported the growth of 37 projects through its seven seasons, and increased the chances of success for startups at a critical stage, especially that 9 out of 10 startups fail in the first year, because many owners lack strength in sustaining their companies in the business world, which led BIG to also contribute in strengthening the startups position on the local and regional investment map, and expanded their network of experts and interested parties, so that their projects reflect the enormous potential enjoyed by Jordanian youth, especially that entrepreneurship in Jordan frames 23% of the entrepreneurial projects in the Middle East and North Africa, although the population of the Kingdom constitutes only 3% of the total population of the region, which positively contributes to supporting the Jordanian economy and achieving more sustainable development in the Kingdom.

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