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The Middle Eastern arm of American Express (AMEX), a multinational payments company with an annual gross revenue exceeding $33 billion, has rolled out its first-ever accelerator program in Bahrain. Dubbed ACCELERATE ME, the new initiative was kicked off in collaboration with corporate innovation specialist Nest.

ACCELERATE ME will focus on helping promising startups and SMEs from Bahrain, the Middle East, and the rest of the world to expedite their growth trajectory and establish themselves in the global arena by offering innovative products and services with an impact. Additionally, the program will also assume the dual responsibility of providing business partners and customers in the ME with innovative digital solutions.

Hundreds of startups from all around the world applied to be a part of the program, of which only seven were selected. The selected participants will spend eight weeks in Bahrain during which, they will develop proof of concepts focused on four core areas of business: Strategy, operations, marketing, and finance. AMEX will host the accelerator program at its Middle East headquarters in Bahrain.

All participants in the accelerator program will receive exhaustive training and mentorship in a collaborative and highly supportive environment. At the end of each session, the participating startups are expected to fine-tune their innovative solutions in sync with market demands in the fields of financial services and FinTech.

“We continuously strive to put innovation at the forefront of everything we do and are excited to create new and stimulating partnerships that can become a catalyst for growth for both American Express Middle East, and for the cohorts participating in the ACCELERATE ME programme,” said Mazin Khoury, CEO of American Express Middle East.

Khoury added: “This eight-week programme, in partnership with Nest, will provide a real-time opportunity for those participating to work alongside the highly experienced digital and business innovation teams within American Express Middle East, as well as helping them explore Bahrain’s emerging fintech and start-ups ecosystem.”

All seven participants will get the chance to participate in a public demonstration day on Dec 2, 2018, and exhibit their innovative solutions to attendees including a panel of experts, investors, innovators, and key government officials, among others.