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Video: Chris Thomas, founder of

At ArabNet's Digital Summit this year, held in Dubai for the first time, Kipp catches up with chief executive of crowd-investing platform


June 26, 2013 2:25 by

When it comes to youth unemployment, the Mena region (Middle East and North Africa) has its fair share of challenges to tackle over the next 10 years. With a population of 100 million young people, a quarter of which are unemployed, millions of jobs need to be created to keep economies afloat.

And with SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) being the backbone to any world economy – creating roughly 60 or 70 per cent of jobs – the focus should be on supporting them. But how do you create jobs as an SME? You need capital.

During this year’s ArabNet’s Digital Summit, the Middle East’s largest forum for digital businesses and entrepreneurs to connect and learn, Kipp met up with Chris Thomas, founder and chief executive officer of The crowd-investing platform is relatively young (roughly a month old) and has only had three companies register with them so far, but Thomas says that crowd investing is the future and is here to stay.

The average SME struggles to fill the funding gap between zero and one million dollars, says Thomas. The traditional roots of financing have abandoned them; banks aren’t lending and venture capitalists are far more interested in larger deals.

Aside from the fact that many SMEs don’t necessarily have alternative options to turn to, crowd investing can be an extremely powerful tool. For one, it empowers companies to reach out to their existing network of followers, subscribers or even friends and family, and leverage those relationships to raise funds in exchange for equity.

Once you have the crowd invested, you automatically have a ready made ambassador network, says Thomas. “As businesses, we spend many, many marketing dollars trying to reach our target audience – have them talking about us, recommending and referring us to friends and, essentially, buy our product or use our service,” he explains.

“If the crowd’s ‘invested’ in your company, they are organically incentivized to get out there, spread the word and the message and get your product viral.”


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