High-profile mentors announced for UAE-Africa start-up initiative

26 August 2019 Consultancy-me.com 3 min. read

Deloitte Middle East’s Cynthia Corby has been signed up among a batch of prominent business leaders to provide mentorship in a unique UAE and Africa start-up development initiative.

Organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce as part of this year’s 5th Global Business Forum on Africa – subtitled Scale-Up Africa and set to take place in November in Dubai – the GBF Mentorship Programme is a first-of-its-kind initiative aimed at fostering cross-border cooperation between the UAE and African startup communities, with four selected start-ups from each region to be mentored by a senior business leader from the opposing geography.

Having selected the shortlisted start-ups following a ‘Chamberthon’ event held in Rwanda earlier this year, where mixed teams of participants worked together to themselves develop the framework for the mentorship programme, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce has now revealed its team of mentors for the inaugural three-month programme – including Deloitte Middle East Construction Industry Leader Cynthia Corby, who originally hails from South Africa.

In addition to Corby, the eight mentors who have come on board cover a diverse range of fields, including technology, education, retail and finance, and bring to the table a wealth of experience in building business and driving the growth of startups, among them; Wunderman MENA CEO Nassib Boueri; Chris Thomas, co-CEO and founder of equity crowd-funding platform Eureeca; and Nigerian tech entrepreneur Aboyeji Iyinoluwa, Managing Partner at Street Capital.

High-profile mentors announced for UAE-Africa start-up initiative

Marking the start of second phase of the programme, the chosen start-ups will now be paired with an individual mentor for three months of intensive training and guidance sessions leading up to the Global Business Forum event in November – and for the fortunate participant matched with Corby, last year named by Forbes as among the 100 most influential women in the Middle East, they’ll have some formidable clout, experience, and inspiration in their corner.

Joining the firm while still a teenager, Corby at 23 became the youngest ever audit manager at Deloitte South Africa, before being appointed as the first female audit partner at Deloitte Middle East – with a partnership stint at Baker Tilly in the UK in between. In addition to now leading Deloitte’s Middle East Construction and Infrastructure practices, while serving as the firm’s director of audit operations, Corby further heads up the UAE audit division’s HR department.

Following the mentorship phase of the programme, the participating startups will ultimately have the opportunity to exhibit and gain wide exposure at the Global Business Forum, which has to date welcomed over 20 heads of state from Africa, along with numerous ministers and thousands of business leaders and executives from 65 countries. The current presidents of Liberia and Seychelles, George Weah and Danny Faure, will feature among this year’s guest speakers.

“The forum offers an unrivalled opportunity for key decision makers to explore investment opportunities in Africa and forge new partnerships that pave the way for mutual benefits and economic growth,” said Hamad Buamim, President of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. “This year’s theme highlights the importance of sustainable development as an engine and catalyst for economic and social progress in Africa… Startups are playing an active role in fostering innovation as they leverage and test out cutting-edge technologies that improve the way we live and work.”