An Introduction To Food, Agriculture and Water Ecosystem in The Middle East and North Africa
Part IV – Kuwait
As Kök Projekt, we are an agri-food startup accelerator and an innovation partner for the food, agriculture, and water sector companies. We are passionate about our job. Like Shakespeare’s famous play, Hamlet’s opening line is “Who is there?”, our opening question to understand an agri-food ecosystem is, “who are the stakeholders, players, game-changers in it?” Thus we prepare ecosystem maps featuring actors of it.
This year, we dived into MENA Region, to map out the key players within its ecosystems. Home to more than 500 million people, the region has a high potential for an agri-food ecosystem. We started our mapping journey with Bahrain, then we searched for the Qatari agri-food ecosystem, and finally, we prepared a map of Saudi Arabia. Now for our fourth map in the region, we looked for the actors in the Kuwait ecosystem.
Ecosystems are complex networks. An agri-food entrepreneurship ecosystem is formed by people, governmental/public organizations, research/academic institutes, support organizations (such as accelerators, incubators, co-working places), companies, and funding organizations. In the agri-food sector, it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees with so many stakeholders. That is the main reason why we create a map. With this map, we invite you to take a closer look at Kuwait’s agri-food ecosystem and hope to draw a clear picture of it.
Building The Map
Governmental & Public Organizations: Focusing on Ecosystem Growth
Kuwait has the sixth-largest proven oil reserves in the world and among the world’s principal hydrocarbon powers. However, the lower oil prices seen in global markets in recent years encouraged the country for the New Kuwait 2035 development plan that aims to diversify the economy and reduce its dependence on oil revenues with a knowledge-based economy(1).
Many governmental and public organizations support the development of entrepreneurship and SME’s. One of the main actors in governmental and public organizations is the SCPD Supreme Council for Planning and Development as an independent body under the council of ministers. Furthermore, there is KIA (Kuwait Investment Authority), the world’s oldest Sovereign Wealth Fund and also one of the richest. Other key government bodies are KDIPA(Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Agency) and KAPP(Kuwait Authority for Partnership Projects), which manages the country’s public-private partnership strategy (2).
Although there are many VC Liked investment funds, public institutions play a crucial role in Kuwait’s start-up ecosystem. National Fund for SME development is one of them. The Fund is an independent public corporation launched in 2013. You will find more stakeholders from governmental and public organizations on our map.
Startup: Exits and Encouragement
As Kök Projekt, we are a food start-up accelerator. We follow start-ups from all over the world carefully. To create our map, we used our database and searched on the internet for developments in Kuwait’s food and agriculture start-up world. Kuwait has a small but promising food start-up ecosystem. In 2015, the country witnessed the acquisition of Talabat, a food delivery platform. In 2017 Carriage, also a food delivery platform was acquired by Delivery Hero, the German online food delivering company. These success stories inspire Kuwait’s young population to become entrepreneurs and start new businesses (3). You can see a list of agri-food start-ups in Kuwait on our map.
As Kök Projekt, we are an innovation partner for the food, agriculture, and water sector companies. We follow them carefully. In our fourth map for the MENA Region, we put companies from various sectors such as retail, finance, food production, and ICT sectors that help build a better ecosystem with more job opportunities.
Incubators & Accelerators
Incubators and accelerators provide entrepreneurs with mentorship and acceleration and incubation services. They also put entrepreneurs in touch with global experts to improve their businesses and ideas. There are many incubators, accelerators, and entrepreneurship support organizations in the Kuwait ecosystem. Among the leading accelerators and incubators in the country, Sirdab Lab, Zain Great Idea, Brillant Lab can be listed. You will find many other accelerators, incubators, hubs, and support organizations on our map.
Building a start-up can be an exhaustive, expensive, and arduous process. Funding is the number one concern almost for all start-ups. Thus investors are key players in the entrepreneurship ecosystems. One of the leading Kuwait-based funding firms for food start-ups in the MENA Region is Savour. The Venture Capital Firm invests in Kuwait and also in other countries. Recently, they invested in a Turkey-based digital ordering and restaurant management platform, Fine and Dine(4). You will find many other investors, VCs, etc., on our map.
This is not a full-scale map of the Kuwait Agri-Food Ecosystem.
You can reach our 2021 Kuwait Agri-Food Ecosystem Map here.