PAYFORT, the Arab world’s leading online payment provider, announced today the launch of its PayForward Initiative, an e-knowledge sharing and networking space that aims to connect startups with seasoned entrepreneurs who are willing to offer the needed mentorship to "fast forward the entrepreneurial ecosystem" in the region, as Omar Soudoudi, Managing Director at Payfort, puts it.
"PayForward is a knowledge sharing initiative that aims to help young startups scale and new startups to launch through advice from our network of mentors," explained Soudoudi. The initiative, which will be part of the PayFort website, allows seasoned entrepreneurs to channel their best practices through "knowledge sessions" that can either take place online or offline. These sessions could be in the one-on-one format, and they are totally free of charge. "We are aiming to have our network include more than 100 mentors in our three main markets: UAE , Egypt, and KSA ," says Soudoudi.
“The Arab world’s startup ecosystem is really on the rise, a phenomenon that carries with it many benefits for the region’s wider economy, from employment creation to increased trade and commerce to economic and infrastructural development,” said Soudodi. “Out of our desire to not only be a state-of-the-art online solutions provider but also a driver of the region’s e-commerce and startup industries, the PayForward Initiative was born. It is our hope that program will facilitate the growth of the ecosystem, and thus increase its wider economic benefits, by connecting entrepreneurs with industry leaders and their deep knowledge, experience, and contacts.”
With an estimated 30 million people shopping online and a market that is expected to grow to $15 billion by 2015, the Middle East is a region that is ripe for e-commerce startups to gain traction. Souq.com, the Arab world’s largest e-commerce platform, is the region’s most prominent e-commerce success story, and serves as a great example for e-commerce startups.
The PayForward Initiative was launched during a Ramadan iftar in Dubai, UAE, which was attended by PAYFORT merchants and acquiring bank partners. The initiative was explained via a brief speech and video, which is now being virally circulated via social media, newsletters, and the press.