MENA’s seed-stage program and early-stage venture capital firm Flat6Labs and the region’s first platform bank Wio Bank have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in an effort to support Abu Dhabi’s start-ups and SMEs.
The agreement between the two organisations sees startups from Flat6Labs’ specialised seed program, Flat6Labs Ignite, gain access to products and services by Wio Bank. Wio Business, the digital banking application tailored specifically to start-ups and SMEs, becomes available thanks to the partnership.
The support from Wio Bank will benefit Flat6Labs, as the digital banking application enables start-ups to easily establish headquarters in Abu Dhabi. This access ensures that the seed-stage program is able to attract start-ups from international markets.
Alongside Wio Business, Wio Bank will also make its technical professionals available as ‘subject-matter experts and mentors’ to the start-up program.
Supporting growth for start-ups and SMEs in Abu Dhabi
Ryaan Sharif, general manager at Flat6Labs in the United Arab Emirates, explained the support the agreement provides start-ups. Sharif said: “There is potentially no other factor that more heavily decides the fate of a start-up than its ability to effectively manage its finances. These organisations need banking partners that have a start-up ethos; centred around agility, flexibility, and innovation.”
“Our long-standing expertise in empowering start-ups to establish themselves in the UAE and raise the funding they need to fuel their ambitions aligns perfectly with Wio Bank’s vision of not only providing world-class banking services but serving as a holistic banking management platform for the modern SME.”
Flat6Labs’ Ignite program aims to support up to 60 start-ups in Abu Dhabi by 2024. Twenty-seven organisations have already successfully invested in its, now concluded, three cycles.
Prateek Vahie, chief commercial officer of Wio Bank, also explained how the bank looks to support SMEs while benefiting from the agreement. Vahie commented: “Being a disruptor in the financial sector, we believe we have a critical role to play in supporting the start-up ecosystem and fostering entrepreneurship in the UAE. We are committed to ensuring that our SME customers find the most viable options for the support they need. We help through funding via traditional credits or loans, peer-to-peer lending, angel investments, or incubators.
“As we develop our offerings tailored to the SME sector, we will benefit from the insights and expertise of other major players in the ecosystem, such as Flat6Labs.”
Abu Dhabi Development Company (ADQ), Alpha Dhabi Holding, Etisalat, and First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) jointly own Wio Bank.