The Middle East is becoming an increasingly popular breeding ground for startup companies, in both the online and offline world. Conflict, unemployment, and devastating economic situations have driven people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to think outside the box and challenge traditional ways of doing business. While some companies have caved under regional pressures, others have had entirely unexpected successes.

iMENA is a company dedicated to ‘capturing the online opportunity in the Middle East and North Africa.’ It operates regional centers in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates and overseas companies working in over ten nations in the Middle East and North Africa. iMENA was launched in 2013 to provide quality online service in an under-represented area of the world.

iMENA focuses on startup enterprises that are online and/or mobile, including Opensooq, EasyTaxi, HelloFood, Tellr, ReserveOut, and SellAnyCar. In total, iMENA holds nine different companies that operate across the Middle East and cover various industries.

iMENA’s business goals involve investing in online companies that are already successful in the region in order to take them to the next level. The Middle East is incredibly open to technological advances and new ideas. For these reasons, combining startups with the online world has proven to be a great combination for iMENA.

Opensooq is iMENA’s classified webpage business. It was created by an IT contractor in 2008, growing from an idea into a website with millions of hits. In the years that followed, Opensooq acquired offices, staff, and eventually found its home in the country of Jordan where it was acquired by iMENA.

iMENA was able to transform Opensooq into a regional game changer, by recognizing the need for a classifieds webpage in the Middle East. Since its acquisition, Opensooq has had over a quarter of a billion webpage hits and launched a mobile app that has been downloaded over 2.5 million times.

Access to the Internet has continued to spread throughout the Middle East and more and more people are able to connect faster than ever before. Users of mobile phones, especially smartphones, has also increased exponentially. People around the MENA region are connected to their computers or mobile phones throughout the day. Creating apps and websites that meet the needs of these people is a recipe for success.

Opensooq is now the number one classifieds website in five of the countries in which it operates. The company engages proactively with users over its many social media platforms, as well as through the website itself.

The website and mobile app are designed to put buyers and sellers, employers and employees in contact with one another, easily and effortlessly. It is helping to develop a spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation in the Middle East by engaging users and empowering consumers to take control over their economic well-being. The onus is on individual members of Opensooq (the same is true for other iMENA companies as well) to create a profit and success for themselves.

There is infinite potential for companies like Opensooq to create and grow in the Middle East. Armed conflicts and economic downturns make it difficult for many organizations and businesses to continue physical operations in the region and provide jobs. Online companies are, however, a step ahead of many of these offline businesses, creating a digital space for commercial transactions free from war and physical threats.

iMENA’s influence in the region will continue to grow as its holdings maintain and increase their success. The diverse range of companies iMENA operates are profitable and meet the real needs of consumers around the region. From food delivery services and employment directories to taxi services and online media corporations, iMENA is investing in businesses that are influencing and changing the economic face of the Middle East.

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