Where are the failed startups of MENA?

I am someone who firmly believes in embracing failure. As the cliche goes, failure is a better teacher than success, in almost every case. Even when it comes to startups. Especially when it comes to startups.

There’s a lot more that we can learn from a failed startup than one that is successful.

According to some numbers available online, up to 60% of the startups fail – meaning they provide a 1X return or less to their investors. Yes, the 90% number is highly exaggerated as pointed out by this Fortune article.

It would be safe to assume that the number is in the same range for Middle East & North Africa as well. Probably even higher because of lack of support in different areas. But for the sake of argument, let’s just say that is is 50% – that 50% of the startups in MENA fail.

But, where are these startups? Why we never get to hear about them when they could the best resource to learn from?

Whenever I learn about any startup in the region shutting down their shop, I try to reach out to them to understand what went wrong and see if they’re okay with the idea of sharing it with the world. No prizes for guessing that I never hear back.

It is probably because people are too shy to talk about failure esp. here in MENA. They see it as a black spot when it should actually be worn as a badge of honor. It establishes the fact that you tried building something and learned a lot of new things unless you were just playing around.

The amount of things you learn when you’re trying to build a business cannot be matched by a regular job so regardless of what one may think, a failed startup in 9/10 cases is going to look good on your resume.

So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t talk about it. You’ll be helping the ecosystem more than anyone else. Especially more than the ‘consultants’ who don’t know a thing about how startups work but are ready to share their ‘valuable insights and advice’ anyway.

And if that’s not enough of motivation, just think of helping this guy who is tired of of writing ‘success’ stories from MENA’s startup ecosystems.

If you’re a founder (from MENA) who has failed a startup and willing to share your story, please reach out to me on Twitter or Facebook. Let’s do this together?

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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