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Meet The 10 Syrian Entrepreneurs Heading To Pitch Their Startups At Amsterdam’s Ignite Conference

On November 28th, in the Dutch capital, 10 startups led by Syrians will have the chance to showcase their ideas at SPARK Ignite Conference, in conclusion to the Startup Roadshow.

Ten startups led by Syrian entrepreneurs and based in Beirut, Amman, Erbil, Istanbul and Gaziantep are taking off to pitch their ideas to an international jury at the SPARK Ignite Conference: Rebuilding Futures on November 28th. The competition is the concluding phase of the exciting Startup Roadshow: A competition for Syrian startups, organised by Jusoor and SPARK.

The roadshow, which started last September, toured the Middle East and held a series of bootcamps across five different cities, offering Syrian entrepreneurs training, mentorship, and perks to take their startup idea to the next stage. Having stopped in Beirut, Erbil, Amman, Gaziantep and Turkey - cities with large communities of Syrian refugees - the roadshow crowned two winning teams in each location, for their Idea stage and Early stage.

From AgriTech startups, to peer-to-peer shipping apps, anti-theft devices, and e-commerce platforms, the winning entrepreneurs span a wide range of industries, showcasing the immerse innovative potential of newcomer entrepreneurs in their host countries. Up next, the two winning teams from each city will get the chance to pitch on the global stage at the SPARK Ignite Conference in Amsterdam on November 28th, for a chance to win up to $8,000 in cash prizes.

The conference, running its 6th edition, is SPARK’s annual celebration of entrepreneurship amongst young people in fragile states, a first-of-its-kind event in Europe gathering entrepreneurs, refugees, education experts, private sector, governments, academia and NGOs.The event will feature prominent International speakers, including Femke Halsema, the Mayor of Amsterdam, Mansur Muhtar, Vice President of the Islamic Development Bank, Jusoor’s co-founder Dania Ismail, and Patricia Atkinson, Chief Program Officer at the IKEA Foundation.  

Taking to the global stage to battle it up for the first prize, these are the 10 Syrian-led startups that will pitch at the conference:

1. Home Chef Lebanon,

Home Chef Lebanon, founded by Ahmad Alhamwi, the startup won the first prize in the Early stage track with the home-made meals delivery service which he started along with his family. 

“Home Chef serves healthy, fresh and home-made food. A lot of students in dorms and employees with long working hours do not have enough time to prepare their food and they got bored of fast food; which are also expensive. We aim to provide a healthier option, while employing unemployed ladies in order to accelerate economic growth in the country,” says Alhamwi.

2. Loop

Loop, a peer-to-peer platform for exchanging and commercializing used toys in Lebanon, took home the first prize in the Idea Stage track. The startup was founded by Median Abd Albaki and Qusai Sakhr.

We believe that every person has something to give. Children are usually only in the receiving end; but we believe that children should start thinking that they can give as well as receiving from an early age,” says Abd Albaki. 

3. Shiffer

Shiffer, the winner of the Early Stage track in Erbil, is a peer-to-peer, online logistics platform for express shipping that offers reduced shipping cost and transit time. It was founded by Azhar Al Madani.

“We are providing a solution for Syrians as well as refugees, to send documents from and to Syria. We are now in Beta stage, focusing on people sending documents, and we are available in iOS,” says Al-Madani. “We connect a sender to a passenger who can send that shipment with them. We are now focusing on finding a solution for the 250,000 Syrian male youth who must send a proof of residence to Syria between the 1st of January and the end of February.”

4. Agri-Answer

Agri-Answer, is an AgriTech application offering farmers solutions to manage their crops, founded by Masaoud Ali and Doaa Al-Ibrahim. The startup, which was the winner of the Idea Stage track, is based in Erbil.

"We provide the best solution for them at the least cost through a seasonal subscription,” says founder Ali.


5. AWI International

AWI International, founded by Firas Sheakh Mousa, is a mobile app and an electronic device to protect cars from robbery, in addition to allowing users to remotely control cars, including via mobile phone. It is based in Gaziantep.

6. Smart Marionette:

Smart Marionette, founded by Juman Jamal Sakkae, won the first prize in the Idea Stage category in Gaziantep. The startup combines education with entertainment, through a program which allows users to input a story that will later be enacted by puppets.  

7. Sharqi shop

Sharqi Shop, founded by Saleem Najjar, took home the first prize in the Early Stage track in Amman. His startup is an e-commerce platform that offers customers an online one-stop shop for handicrafts in Jordan. The platform currently features 400 items made by 40 artisans, both Syrian refugees and Jordanians.

“My partner at Sharqi and I were inspired by the Syrian artisans we met through the Syrian community in Jordan," Najjar says. "After having several talks with them we realised that their main concern was being unable to reach potential customers or sell their products in Jordan, as they didn’t have sales or distribution channels."


8. Fadfed

Fadfed, founded by Ibrahem Ahmed won the first place in the Idea stage track. The startup is a bot-powered platform based in Amman, for people to access mental healthcare and life-coaching services in the region.

“Fadfed is an electronic application that creates safe spaces for people to express what they feel away from people’s judgment, through a smart chatbot that we will develop to respond to users. In addition, there is another path within the application that allows users to make an appointment for a psychologist or a life couch,” Ahmed explains.


9. Torever

Torever, the winner of the Early Stage track in Istanbul, was founded by Yusuf Kabbara. The startup includes a mobile app that helps travelers plan their trip in a minute and enrich their experience providing services on the go.

10. Uniqon,

Uniqon, founded by Mohanad Al-Helwany and Alaa Al-Nuaimi, won the first place in the Idea Stage track. The startup is an online marketplace for animated icons.

“For the final competition in the Netherlands, I look forward to shedding light on the Syrian problem, hoping to stop the war. And that we Syrians are not just refugees lacking potential or ambitions,” says Firas Sheakh Mousa, winner of the Early stage track in Gaziantep.

All photos courtesy of Startup Roadshow




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