The Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an announced today the ten winning teams in the first cycle of the Ma’an Social Incubator program.

Ma’an is part of the ‘Ghadan 21’ accelerated development programme designed to spur diversity and growth in Abu Dhabi’s economy to make it one of the best places in the world to do business, invest, live, work and visit.

The winning projects include a mobile app that helps convert text to sign language and another that helps people with visual impairments to navigate their surroundings through sensors and visual recognition. Among the winners of this year’s edition, six teams were local, while four teams were international.

The event this morning announcing the ten winning projects was attended by His Excellency Sheikh Abdulla Bin Mohamed Al Hamed, Chairman of Department of Health; His Excellency Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development; His Excellency Abdullah Abdulali Al Humaidan, Secretary General of Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination; His Excellency Hamad Al Dhaheri, Director General of the Social Support Authority; and Her Excellency Salama Al Amimi, Director General, Authority of Social Contribution - Ma'an.

The Ma’an Social Incubator program is the first of its kind in the region, with each of the ten teams eligible to receive funding up to AED 200,000 released at every successful milestone the participant reaches, as well as support for living and housing expenses for non-residents of Abu Dhabi.

The program aims to support and develop innovative social concepts and start-up projects so they may become social institutions or civil facilities with an active role in helping people of determination in facing challenges in their communities, offering them solutions that improve their quality of life and achieve their ambitions.

The Ma’an Social Incubator program also provides the necessary and specialized support needed for these projects to be sustainable, offering the guidance and tools needed for growth, including financial and moral support, as well as office space, business expertise and access to possible investors.

Since launching the program in May earlier this year, 130 ventures applied for the Ma’an Social Incubator program from as far afield as Brazil, Denmark, France, Nigeria and India.

Later in August, a shortlist of 25 nominated teams were invited to pitch their solutions before a panel who came together to decide on the final ten winning teams.

The teams will have the opportunity to test their social start-up ideas and gain an in-depth understanding of the market, in addition to attending a series of plenary workshops and receiving mentor advice that will help them develop their idea into a product or service, beginning in September and continuing for 16 weeks.

Ma’an was established in February 2019 by the Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi with the aim of bringing together the government, the private sector and civil society to support a culture of social contribution and participation. The authority will deliver solutions for social challenges with four main pillars of work – a Social Investment Fund, a Social Incubator Program, Community Engagement Programs and the introduction of a new type of public contracting, Social Impact Bonds.

Ma’an seeks to reinforce the culture of giving in Abu Dhabi, and establish the volunteering needs of the community, aiming to make us of the currently available social volunteering opportunities and initiatives, as well as contribute by generating new opportunities.

Her Excellency Ms. Salama Al Ameemi, Director General of Ma’an said: “We are absolutely delighted with the incredibly innovative ten solutions that have been awarded a place in the Ma’an Social Incubator program, and are now fully focused on helping the entrepreneurs to make their dream become a reality.

“These social start-ups will contribute towards establishing sustainable social solutions for people of determination and raising their standard of living in Abu Dhabi and the UAE in general, with an ambition for global impact in the future. This is a hugely important phase in our first incubator program, and we are very much looking forward to working with the committed and passionate people leading each of the start-ups, making their concepts and projects a reality.”

The program offers unique and valuable networking opportunities for the teams to build relationships with individuals outside of the program, including investors, third sector leaders, industry figures, and decision makers in specialized fields regionally and internationally. Ma’an will also host ‘demo days’ to present the concepts of the ten winning team organised for review and evaluation, as well as to leverage funding from investors.

The 10 successful start-ups are:

1.       Accessible Ad: Platform for information, expertise, training and support to ensure effective accessibility for People of Determination in Abu Dhabi

2.       The Butterfly Foundation: Advocacy agency to bring support and empowerment in the hands of People of Determination in Abu Dhabi

3.       The Camp: Inclusion-safe, seasonal, mobile sleepover camps for Children of Determination in the UAE

4.       I Hear You: Mobile app that enables communication from text to sign language and vice versa

5.       Inclusive: Online platform serving as an umbrella for all things inclusion-related in the UAE

6.       Key2Enable: Assistive technology empowering People of Determination to use tablets, computers and smartphones with adapted hardware and accessories

7.       Martha Edu: Educational smart cards and mobile app to educate hearing impaired children and parents on signing language

8.       Ioptyc by Nexart: Solution for people with visual impairment to navigate their surroundings through the use of distance judging sensors & visual recognition technology

9.       RAB3I: Social venture offering People of Determination an opportunity to attend recreational activities with a (trained) ’buddy’ who shares similar interests

10.   Heroes of Hope: Social enterprise delivering equal opportunities for People of Determination, including recreational activities, work opportunities, and sporting events

Source: Seven Media