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THE LEADING TECH FESTIVAL FOR EMERGING MARKETS

Start Track

The Start Track at Step covers everything about the startup scene, and takes place at the Main Stage which features global influencers in the tech and digital space across keynotes, panels, and debates covering success stories, growth, investment and fundraising, and the coolest startups in the space.

What We Cover

Growth and Scalability
Startups growth and scalability during their journeys, lessons to learn from SMEs.
Solopreneurship
Business plan, tools, best practices.
Investment and Fundraising
Investors and founders relationships, different types of fundraising, and choosing the right deals.
Acquisitions and IPOs
International interest in emerging markets, filing IPOs and listing process, determining the right exit plan.
 

2023 START TRACK SPEAKERS

more will be announced soon

Lloyed Lobo

Boast.AI & Traction

Lloyed Lobo

Boast.AI & Traction

Lloyed is the Co-founder of Boast.AI, a fintech platform that helps businesses access funding for R&D. After bootstrapping to 8 figures in revenue, Boast took nearly $150M in capital. Lloyed also runs Traction, a non-profit community of +100k innovators where leaders from the fastest growing companies share learnings on building, growing, and scaling companies via webinars, podcasts, meetups, retreats, and conferences. Lloyed has been covered in Forbes, TechCrunch, Fox Business, SF Biz Journals, and VentureBeat. He has also been featured on more than 40 podcasts including Entrepreneurs on Fire, Marketing School, Mixergy, SaaStr, and 1Mby1M.

Ritesh Tilani

Enhance Ventures

Ritesh Tilani

Enhance Ventures

Ritesh Tilani is the founder of Enhance Ventures, a venture studio focused on the future of finance and commerce in MENAPT. Enhance Ventures’ portfolio includes Joi Gifts, Clevr, Blue Terra, Right Farm and BNS, among others. Ritesh also serves on the board of StudioHub, the largest community of startup studios and venture builders across Europe. Ritesh is a native of the UAE with over 30 years of experience in the region. He holds a B.Sc. in Economics from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from INSEAD. Ritesh is an avid squash player, having played for Penn’s NCAA 1st Division varsity squash team.

Rayan Ali Alsharif

BIM Ventures

Rayan Ali Alsharif

BIM Ventures

Andrew Lee Miller

GrowthExpertz

Andrew Lee Miller

GrowthExpertz

Andrew Lee Miller is an American startup marketing expert, also known as @AndrewStartups, who has driven growth for three startup exits including two in Dubai (Dubizzle and GoNabIt). After Dubai, Andrew moved to Silicon Valley and has since lectured in over 15 countries, written for INC magazine, StartupGrind, and StartupNation, and his first book entitled The Startup Growth Book is one of the top startup marketing books on Amazon. You can learn more about Andrew and how he helps startups grow at www.andrewstartups.com

Colin McDonagh

Velocity Global

Colin McDonagh

Velocity Global

Colin McDonagh leads the Emerging Business team at Velocity Global, which is focused on delivering products and services that simplify the process of working with anyone, anywhere, anyhow. Colin applies more than a decade of experience innovating programs to source top external talent for global companies. He is a frequent expert speaker and contributor on the topic of the Future of Work and was the architect for Meta’s (formerly Facebook) highly respected Direct Source Program.

Priya Rajan

Silicon Valley Bank

Priya Rajan

Silicon Valley Bank

Priya is Market Lead for India and MENA in SVB’s international market development team, Global Gateway. She provides market entry advice and insights on cross-border engagement focused on constituents in the innovation ecosystem – founders and investors. Priya’s work with Indian entrepreneurs and venture capital funds has yielded tangible value with founders accessing leading programs in the U.S. like Y-Combinator and investors getting visibility of great founders and deals. Priya calls on her experience, expertise and connections to champion a more inclusive innovation economy. She works closely with community leaders, including Change Catalyst, Kapor Capital, and YC Female Founders. She sits on the board of directors at non-profits Big Brothers Big Sisters and Women Who Code – an organization dedicated to helping women excel in technology careers. As a venture partner at Xfund, Priya connects VC firms with superior research universities and advisor at Entrepreneurship at Cornell University. Priya co-created the Diaspora Community initiative at SVB and is a charter member of TiE, a nonprofit focused on nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs with Indian ties. Prior to joining Global Gateway, Priya was a Director in our early stage practice (Startup Banking) where she led university programs and SVB Trek for student entrepreneurs. Leading to partnerships with Dorm Room Fund, The House Fund, Stanford Venture Studio and Rough Draft Ventures. Priya’s career at SVB Financial Group began as a global group financial officer, a pivotal role in the Finance team. Earlier in her career, she held financial management positions at Charles Schwab and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. In addition to a bachelor’s degree from the University of Madras and a master’s degree in international business from Queen’s University, Priya holds an MBA in business administration from Cornell University and a California CPA in accounting and business administration. Priya enjoys travelling the world, opening doors, and meeting new people. When not on a plane, Priya enjoys classical music – after studying music for over a decade, she passed on this passion and skill to her two children.

Mohannad Ali

Hotjar

Mohannad Ali

Hotjar

Mohannad Ali is the CEO of Hotjar, the Product Experience Insights software of choice for small and medium businesses. Before joining Hotjar in 2019, he was VP of Engineering at HelloFresh, and at Hotjar, Mohannad initially held the role of Chief Product and Technology Officer.

G.V. Ravishankar

Sequoia India

G.V. Ravishankar

Sequoia India

GV Ravishankar, Managing Director, Sequoia India At Sequoia, GV Ravishankar advises on both technology as well as non-technology investments. He’s deeply interested in technology’s role in helping to drive efficiencies, reduce costs and improve access in consumer and healthcare markets. He currently serves on the boards of companies in the Middle East such as Huspy, Lean Technologies, and Tabby. Others across India include – axio, BYJUs, Eruditus Learning, Faces Cosmetics, Five Star Business Finance, Finova Capital, HomeLane, India Shelter Finance Corporation, Indigo Paints, K12 Technoservices, Prataap Snacks (NSE: DIAMONDYD), Rebel Foods, Rupeek, Suburban Diagnostics and Turtlemint. Prior to this, GV worked at McKinsey & Company, where he advised senior management of top Indian companies on a variety of issues including business building, channel management and leadership development. He also had a prior stint with Wipro Technologies in their Embedded and Internet Access division. GV is the recipient of the Midas Touch award by Economic Times Startup Awards 2020 and IIM Ahmedabad’s Young Alumni Achiever’s Award, 2019-20 in the Corporate Leadership category.

Amal Dokhan

500 Global

Amal Dokhan

500 Global

Amal is a seasoned professional with experience in startup investments, corporate innovation, and consulting in the MENA region. Previous to joining 500 Global, Ms. Dokhan was the Managing Director of Babson Global for Entrepreneurial Leadership. Previously, she was the Manager of Learning and Design at the Entrepreneurship Center at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology where she led the New Ventures Acceleration and Corporate Innovation programs. Prior to that engagement she worked in the KAUST Seed Fund developing marketing and events, while also providing a range of services to startup clients. Ms. Dokhan sits on the board of several organizations such as Wayakit Company, Cranfield University UK, King Abdulaziz University. She contributes to a monthly column at Leaders Magazine on Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and has been a speaker at Davos World Economic Forum, TEDx at Kaust, the Annual Conference of the Islamic Development Bank, among others. Ms. Dokhan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education, English Language & Literature from the King Abdul Aziz University, and a Masters of Strategic Marketing and Marketing Management from the University of Wollongong.

PADMINI GUPTA

XARE

PADMINI GUPTA

XARE

Padmini Gupta is the Co-founder and CEO of Xare. Xare is one of the fastest-growing fintechs globally now with more than 2 million users. Xare won Entrepreneur’s “Fastest Growing Fintech of the Year” for 2021. She began her entrepreneurial journey with Rise, a fintech platform that democratizes access to essential financial services for millions of migrants globally. Rise was Entrepreneur’s “MENA Fintech of the Year” for 2020. Rise launched Xare which was inspired by its migrant customers, and allows anyone, anywhere to share money with anyone, anywhere. Before her entrepreneurship journey, she was an award-winning Banker from California, a World Economic Forum Global Leadership Fellow, and an Oxford MBA.

Masaood Rahma Al Masaood

Emirates Angel Investors Association

Masaood Rahma Al Masaood

Emirates Angel Investors Association

Masaood Rahma Al Masaood is the Chairman of Emirates Angels Investors Association, a non-profit association that focuses on startup growth and facilitates investors’ investment and entrepreneurs’ activities in the country. He concurrently serves as the Vice Chairman of Al Masaood Oil and Gas and is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Al Masaood Group. An entrepreneur and investor, Masaood has been involved in key PPP projects, is an active philanthropist, and a socially committed member who strives to make significant contributions to the community. He led the business restructuring of Al Masaood Oil and Gas that has been awarded with several major contracts under his leadership, including the largest 3D Seismic Surveying contract, valued at over USD 1.6 billion.

Nitin Reen

Nuwa Capital

Nitin Reen

Nuwa Capital

Nitin has a diversified background in venture capital, direct investments and business operations across 22 years of experience in Canada and the GCC. He has built businesses from the ground up and assumed the role of a transformational C-level executive for companies navigating their way through the growth phase.

Khaled Talhouni

Nuwa Capital

Khaled Talhouni

Nuwa Capital

Khaled is Managing Partner at Nuwa Capital. Prior to launching Nuwa Capital, Khaled was Managing Partner at Wamda Capital, the region’s first institutionalized Venture Capital fund investing in technology-enabled companies in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. Khaled has centered his career around identifying and investing in disruptive businesses that displace incumbent inefficiencies in traditional sectors of the economy. He has invested in and managed over 150 early stage transactions, including Careem, Mumzworld, Insider, Modanisa, Twiga Foods, and Tamatem.

Khaled Ghorab

Irtiqa International إرتقاء الدولية للإستشارات

Khaled Ghorab

Irtiqa International إرتقاء الدولية للإستشارات

Khaled is an award-winning Startups Coach & Strategic Advisor, & the Founder of Irtiqa International Consulting. He is also the author of The Art of Winning People Over. At 27, Khaled lead various businesses ranging from AI, tech, & F&B, & consulting where he caught the entrepreneurial bug. This lead him to starting an ed-tech startup with 2 co-founders where he learned key lessons of being a founder. Today, he shares those insights with Founders internationally & locally through strategic partnerships with VC’s like Shorooq Partners, & startups ready to accelerate growth from Seed to Scale. Khaled Ghorab is helping transform the MENAP startup ecosystem through coaching & advising startups & government entities through expertise in strategy, leadership, & organizational culture to organizations such as Meta, Twitter, Ministry of Tolerance & Coexistence, Hakkini, & Shorooq Partners.

Amr Mostafa

Milango

Amr Mostafa

Milango

Amr Mostafa is the CEO of Milango, building smart city and Prop-tech solutions for several of the largest developers in the region with 100K+ residential units, 2 cities, 4 business parks, and 9 fitness locations under management. Prior to joining Milango, Amr previously served as a Senior Associate at Endeavor Egypt, aiding in the scaling up and investments made in the fastest growing startups in the region since 2015. Amr is a graduate of Dalhousie University where he studied Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

Rawan Baddour

Zest Equity

Rawan Baddour

Zest Equity

Co-founder of Zest Equity. We are building a turnkey investment and liquidity solutions platform for the venture ecosystem in MENA and wider emerging markets – enabling collective growth. Over 10 years of experience in strategy, organizational restructuring / change management, commercial and investment banking. Previously headed a DIFC based regulated investment bank – managing the local team, cross-border group functions, as well as regulatory matters, compliance, risk management and board / governance practices. Keen interest in innovation and digitization – Rawan is also an active investor in public and private markets.

Lothar Schillers

Active Sales Coaching

Lothar Schillers

Active Sales Coaching

Lothar is a „Gartner” certified Sales Trainer, ISO certified Agile Coach and New Work Expert with the passion to help Start-ups in their different phases of a successful market entry and to transform their company to the next level. Together with his partner he developed the “Customer-Business-Value Centric” sales methodology. Starting with the question what customers really want, this Methodology provides a guide how to become a real trusted business partner to your customers rather than being perceived as a seller. He has led large scale sales transformation programs in multinational companies like Nokia and Siemens as well as sales enabling and coaching programs for several start-ups supporting them in their different market entry phases. He is a strategic, value-oriented innovator and a strong believer in trusted partnership with open, efficient and constructive collaboration.

Ottmar Krauss

I² Consulting

Ottmar Krauss

I² Consulting

Ottmar is on a mission to help companies on their journey to bring great technology successfully into the market, using the systemic Customer-Business-Value centric Go2Market Framework he co- developed: All too often companies forget that providing value for customers is at the very heart of every successful business – what does not provide value gets ignored, not bought. And that means value at every stage of the Go2Market Process, be it product development, marketing, or sales. To achieve this end2end systemic perspective, he can leverage his significant depth across many different areas including technology, sales, marketing, consulting, and people leadership. He loves to work collaboratively with various stakeholders and senior decision-makers and their organizations and is known for following through on commitments and turning around sales performances.

Yasin Aboudaoud

Brinc

Yasin Aboudaoud

Brinc

Yasin Aboudaoud is a Hong Kong born entrepreneur who has been in the global trading business for over 12 years. While running Brinc in the Mena region he has been able to establish programs and support over 100 startups. This gave him the global vision of A-Z solutions in market development and product distribution. His expertise in the MENA region in the last 8 years, has allowed him to connect people with products of every kind across the different eco systems.

Vilhelm Hedberg

ekar

Vilhelm Hedberg

ekar

Serial entrepreneur Vilhelm Hedberg launched ekar in 2016, the Middle East’s first pay-as-you-go hourly car rental service. The idea was to create an easy-to-use self-drive mobility platform allowing residents and tourists to book cars conveniently parked throughout the city. The same year, ekar was selected by the RTA Dubai as the provider for 100 vehicles carshare project and secured other key clients, including Saudi Aramco, Emirates Airlines, and Etihad Airways. Since then, Vilhelm has successfully spearheaded ekar’s expansion and pivoted the business to a pure mobility tech company connecting fleet owners and OEMs to renters with a seamless digital rental and leasing platform. In 2021, ekar launched its Self-Drive Super app and ekar Subscription service, allowing users to book economy or luxury cars for a period of up to nine months with no down payment or long-term commitment. The service followed the launch of ‘ekar Fleet’, part of ekar Mobility OS, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for car rental and leasing companies to rent their fleet on the ekar platform remotely.

Omar Al Shaaban

The Space

Omar Al Shaaban

The Space

Omar Al-Shabaan is an Entrepreneur, Business Developer, and an angel investor with over 18 years of work experience in major multinational and local companies. he is the co founder and CEO of The Space . He was leading Partnerships at Misk Innovation, a subsidiary of Misk Foundation,as well as serving as a short term consultant with The World Bank group on Innovation and Entrepreneurship , and was an Advisor for the National Digitization Unit. Omar holds an MBA from IE Business school as well as an Executive master in Corporate Communication from the same school.

Yana El Dirani

Modus Capital

Yana El Dirani

Modus Capital

Investment professional with 15+ years of experience in venture capital, management consulting, and public markets. Currently a partner at Modus Capital, a Venture Platform operating in MENA comprising VC funds, Venture Builders, and a Corporate Innovation arm.

Laith Zraikat

Arzan VC

Laith Zraikat

Arzan VC

Laith is a dentist turned tech entrepreneur turned venture capitalist. In 1997 he co-founded Jeeran.com while going through university, which grew to over 7 million registered members and managed to attract funding from global Venture Capital firms including Intel Capital and 500 Startup. In 2015 Laith moved to Venture Capital by joining Arzan VC. Having led investments into many early-stage companies in MENA, North America, and UK, he covers most verticals with a special interest in SaaS, marketplaces, logistics, transportation, and direct-to-consumer (D2C) models. With 9 exits and 7+ years in Venture Capital, he has built a portfolio spanning two funds that includes: Careem, Swvl, Mejuri, Trukker, Onfleet, Tamatem Games, iKcon, Zid, and 37 others. A self-taught technologist, he still codes, and speaks fluent Arabic, English, Objective-C, Swift, PHP, C#, JavaScript, and a little bit of Python. Laith holds a Bachelor of Dental Surgery from the University of Jordan. Currently raising a third fund (AVC Fund III).

Suraya Turk

Legal Circle FZC

Suraya Turk

Legal Circle FZC

Suraya Turk is Managing Partner of Legal Circle, a forward-thinking UAE-based law firm providing startups, SMEs, multinationals and government entities with optimal legal and commercial solutions. Legal Circle has positioned itself as a leading legal firm in the technology sphere, providing expert advice to diverse clients navigating this ever-changing regulatory landscape. Suraya has held the role of Managing Director with both international and local law firms in the UAE, and prior to that enjoyed a highly successful career as a qualified lawyer in Australia. This background provides her with a wealth of experience advising clients on a global platform as well as establishing top-performing legal firms and specialist legal teams. Suraya is focused on cementing Legal Circle’s strong reputation as an agile, adaptive and innovative law firm that provides outstanding levels of service to clients. She is passionate about working with startup founders, investors and women in business to enable them to achieve and exceed their business goals.

Victor Kiriakos

Dunes Ventures

Victor Kiriakos

Dunes Ventures

Victor is the Founder and CEO of Dune Ventures, a hybrid model venture studio based in the UAE. The studio actively supports founders, corporates, and governments to build exceptional ventures that create exponential impact. Before starting his entrepreneurial journey, Victor was the GM-UAE at Careem, where he supported the company in scaling its SuperApp proposition , pivoting its food business, and launching its subscription program. Prior to working at a scale-up, he spent 8 years investing, building, and scaling digital start-ups as a VC with Precinct Partners, Flat6Labs, and Intigral. Victor holds a BA economics from AUB, an MBA from INSEAD, and is a Thnk.org participant.

Mamoun Hmedan

Wego

Mamoun Hmedan

Wego

Mamoun is Chief Commercial Officer and Managing Director for Wego, the largest online travel marketplace in the MENA region and one of the fastest growing tech companies in Dubai. Wego is dual-headquartered in Singapore and Dubai and Mamoun runs the business from the Dubai office where he is responsible for managing operations across the region. He is a significant shareholder in the company. Mamoun helped launch Wego’s Middle East operations in 2013 and expanded the company’s footprint across MENA and into India. Prior to that, he established the Advertising & Media sales unit and was Acting GM for MENA before being promoted to Managing Director. It’s Mamoun’s ability to move effortlessly between the high-tech world of Silicon Valley and the high-touch world of the Middle Eastern travel and tourism industry that makes him a particularly effective senior executive. Mamoun is a member of EMIR Corporate Intelligence Network, MEA business group and German Emirati Joint Council for Industry & Commerce (AHK). He was named by Arabian Business as one of the “Young Achievers 2021”. Prior to joining Wego, Mamoun held senior roles in some of the region’s best known digital media start-ups including iKoo (first and largest online advertising network in the Middle East acquired by Yahoo!) and Diwanee (largest premium lifestyle content publisher acquired by Webedia). Mamoun has lived in Dubai since 2005 and was a sales exec for Audi before joining the tech industry.

Hassan Awada

Kroll

Hassan Awada

Kroll

Hassan is currently a Senior Vice President – Corporate Finance at Kroll, advising on fundraising, mergers and acquisitions, initial public offering, as well as financial and operational transformation and turnaround. He is also a Startup Mentor at Outlier Ventures, Hub71 and Startupbootcamp, and a board adviser to various organisations. He has exceptional experience in venture capital, private equity, and investment banking, which he gained through his roles with tier one organisations such as PWC, EY, Cornerstone Capital and Kroll. Hassan has over 15 years of experience in origination, due diligence, structuring, negotiation and delivering transactions. He has an exceptional track record of advising, scaling and exiting companies, realising exceptional returns, across a range of sectors such as FinTech, Blockchain, Crypto, Telecom, Gaming, Mobility and PropTech.

Hasan Haider

Plus Venture Capital (+VC)

Hasan Haider

Plus Venture Capital (+VC)

Hasan Haider is the Founder and Partner of +VC, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on investing in tech and tech-enabled startups in the MENA and its diaspora. He has over 10 years of experience investing in MENA startups. Prior to +VC, Hasan was Managing Partner, MENA at 500 Startups and has invested in more than 180 startups in the region. Hasan was also co-founder and CEO of Tenmou, the first business angel’s organization in Bahrain before joining 500 Startups. His contribution in developing angel investment in emerging markets through Tenmou has been picked up as a Case Study by the World Bank and is taught to Entrepreneurship Policy makers at Babson College.

Zuhair Shamma

Zest Equity

Zuhair Shamma

Zest Equity

Co-founder at Zest Equity

Jehan Ara

Katalyst Labs

Jehan Ara

Katalyst Labs

Jehan Ara and her work have been a catalyst for the Pakistani startup ecosystem, empowering over a 1000 founders during her time as the Founder of the Nest I/O. Having served on the Prime Minister’s IT & Digital Economy task force, and advisory boards of TikTok, Punjab and Sindh IT Advisory boards, and numerous other notable governmental and non-governmental bodies, the 2023 Tamgha-i-Imtiaz winner is also a staunch proponent of gender parity through her role on the World Bank Advisory Group for Gender Diversity. Jehan Ara has also recently been awarded for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to the Digital Industry at the Pakistan Digital Awards in 2021. She now serves as the Founder and CEO of Katalyst Labs, a Karachi-based startup accelerator.

SANA ALAM

Crank Recruitment

SANA ALAM

Crank Recruitment

Sana Alam is an industry leader in finding tech talent, with a passion for building authentic relationships with companies, candidates and hiring managers. She is the founder of Crank Recruitment which works with tech startups and scale-ups globally. She’s on a mission to make the tech industry richer in diversity and access talent globally. Her team helps companies build better teams by connecting them with the most diverse, talented people in the whole spectrum of software engineering and product management.

Issa Aghabi

Access Bridge Ventures

Issa Aghabi

Access Bridge Ventures

Issa’s career has focused on finance and investments for the past 20 years with a focus on Venture Capital. He started his career in investment banking and transitioned into the MENA Venture Capital space in 2006 as a founding member of Accelerator technologies, one of the first venture funds in the Arab world. He has since occupied numerous roles that include M&A consultant at Yahoo!, Head of Investment at N2V – a regional Venture Builder, and Head of Investments and Venture Capital at twofour54. Prior to establishing Access Bridge Ventures, Issa headed IFC’s Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Europe’s venture investments both from a Direct and Indirect (accelerators and fund of fund) perspective. His track record includes, having invested in 65+ direct and indirect investment deals (from $100K to $25M per transaction), managed over $150m in MENA Venture funds, launched the UAE’s first Accelerator, fully exited 6+ MENA based deals, supported with 2 IPOs and much more. Issa now the founder and managing partner of Access Bridge Ventures, an early stage MEPAP focused Venture Fund with over 14 investments to date and growing

John Park

SparkLabs X

John Park

SparkLabs X

John Park is a partner at SparkLabs X. As a managing director of SparkLabs he led venture investing and built two companies as a a venture builder. Prior to joining SparkLabs, John was the CEO of Lifestyle Division at Al Ahli Holding Group (AAHG), a UAE based multi billion dollar conglomerate with diverse business portfolio’s from entertainment, beauty, retail to real estate development. Before AAHG, John was at Memebox leading their business development effort. He started his career at SK holdings C&C’s corporate strategic planning team where he focused on assessing technology and market adoption strategy. He is also an active startup advocate and angel investor with special interest in web3.

Aya Sadder

BOLT Consultancy

Aya Sadder

BOLT Consultancy

A real believer in startups, Aya Sadder has helped bring companies to life across a range of industries, countries, and ecosystems. Founder of Bolt Consultancy, Aya launched the company in late November 2020 to help build hubs of entrepreneurship across the MENA region. Prior to BOLT, Aya was the Incubator manager of Intelak, the first Aviation, Travel & Tourism Incubator in the MENA region sponsored by the Emirates Group, Microsoft, Accenture and Dubai Tourism. For her work there, she was recognized with the Ecosystem Influencer award in 2017 from Entrepreneur Middle East as well as Intrapreneur of the Year from Arabian Business. Aya also worked for over six years under the umbrella of Techstars and Google as a globally certified facilitator for Startup Weekend.

Hisham A. Kassim

Levari, PLLC

Hisham A. Kassim

Levari, PLLC

Hisham is a seasoned corporate lawyer with almost fifteen years of experience in the Middle East., Hisham represents a wide range of international and MENA-based clients, including some of the leading venture capital and private equity firms in the Middle East. To date, he has successfully closed over 200 M&A and corporate transactions representing numerous funds and corporations throughout the MENA region, the U.S., the U.K., and Europe. Several of these deals include multi-million-dollar Series A and B transactions. He also assisted in forming over 30 venture capital and private equity funds over the course of his career.

Lana Ghanem

Hikma Ventures

Lana Ghanem

Hikma Ventures

Lana is the Managing Director of Hikma Ventures (the corporate VC arm of Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC) which she helped establish in 2015. Lana started her career at Hikma Pharmaceuticals PLC in 2012 as the Assistant to the CEO and Director of Corporate Strategy & Development where she worked on strategic projects across the company’s various functions including strategy, M&A, operations and finance. Prior to joining Hikma, Lana worked as a Financial Analyst in the Mergers and Acquisitions department at Dresdner Kleinwort Investment Bank in London where she worked on transactions for clients across multiple industries. Lana co-founded the Innovation & Leadership Advisory Board (ILAB) at Hikma which consists of young Hikma employees whom share a dedication to advancing Hikma and ensuring it is at the frontier of innovation. Lana holds an MBA from Harvard Business School (HBS) and a Bachelors of Commerce degree from McGill University. She is a board member of Siniora Food Industries PLC, the Arab Palestinian Investment Company (APIC) and an investment committee member of AB Ventures (the corporate VC arm of Arab Bank PLC).

Abdallah Abu Sheikh

Astra Tech

Abdallah Abu Sheikh

Astra Tech

Abdallah Abu-Sheikh is one of the top serial entrepreneurs in the MENA region and a global keynote speaker. He is globally renowned for launching ground-breaking future-ready platforms centered on sustainability, mobility, and digitalization, led by unconventional strategies and strong business ethics. As the Co-Founder and CEO of Astra Tech, a UAE-based technology investment and development group, Abdallah is spearheading the launch of a revolutionary new ‘ultra-platform’, which will bring together selected consumer technologies, products, and services. It is specifically designed to address the ‘platform fatigue’ many users are experiencing today. Abdallah also leads BARQ, a first-of-its-kind tech-driven network of electric vehicles built to serve the MENA region’s last mile delivery sector. As the Co-Founder and CEO of BARQ, he heads a team that offers ground-breaking solutions to address the transport industry’s much-needed demand for efficiency, comfort, and rider safety. BARQ EV has been well-recognized as the first-ever licensed drone delivery service in the UAE. Another of his highly successful projects is RIZEK, a localized digital marketplace launched in 2020, later acquired by Astra Tech in 2022. RIZEK aims to meet the lifestyle needs of UAE residents through verified service providers. Securing over $10 million in funds, the application was ranked among the Most-Funded Start-ups in the Middle East by Forbes ME. Abdallah is also passionate about creating an informed youth community. He is often invited to speak at regional and international platforms such as TEDx, delivering keynotes and thought leadership speeches on start-up culture and fundraising, business strategies, growth and diversification, digital transformation and more. Looking back, Abdallah is a global citizen. He spent his younger years between England and China, with a family presence in The Gambia in West Africa. Abdallah’s earlier projects were focused on renewable energy and achieved $700 million in assets within three years of entering sub-Saharan Africa. He studied at Dalhousie University in Canada, where he acquired a degree in Accounting and Finance. Abdallah has always steered clear from the culture of “founder fever”, where leaders talk big but take no action. His approach to business took on a renewed perspective after life-changing incident in 2014 that left him bound to a wheelchair for three months. This further strengthened his resolve to practice mindful leadership.

Step 2023 presented by

Super Partners

Main Partner

Partners

Knowledge Partners

Exhibitors