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Jordan Entrepreneurs Take Financial Practice Online with GIST Boot Camp

September 13, 2017

In emerging markets, people do not always have access to traditional methods of banking, so they depend on each other for investment opportunities. Two entrepreneurs decided to take this decades old practice in Jordan into the 21st century with their mobile application, Tanda.  

According to the brothers Bisher Assamak and Ghaith Assamak, the spark of inspiration ignited nine months earlier, during a conversation with an investor interested in financial tech and blockchains.  

“At this point we identified a very efficient offline mechanism that parallels the block chain model and is wide spread across most developing economies,” said Ghaith. “Our goal is to digitize this mechanism and similar mechanisms that will give users a real alternative to traditional financing methods.” 

In Jordan, the brothers explained, people will form a group, or “tanda,” with a monthly pot of money everyone pays into. Once a month, the total sum collected is given to one person in the group. This is repeated the following month, with the money given to another person in the group and so on. 

But after nine months of development, Tanda needed another spark, and the Assamak brothers applied to the 2017 GIST Boot Camp in Amman, Jordan. The boot camp brought mentors and instructors to Jordan to help young startups with customer discovery and development, channel economics and structuring a pitch. 

“The GIST Boot Camp was an opportunity to learn the best practices of establishing a business, and identifying a market need,” said Bisher. “Success in past conferences worldwide encouraged us to apply for GIST and benefit from the skills, exposure, and connections produced during the boot camp.” 

Over the four-day boot camp, Team Tanda worked with instructors to fine-tune their mobile app and make it more competitive in the market  and attractive to investors. They also spent time outside of the workshop, engaging in customer discovery, which the brothers found critical for their app.  

“This experience allowed us to identify our customer’s archetypes, needs and behaviors,” said Ghaith. “People were very engaged and happy to share with us their stories.”  

“The boot camp was full of occasions where we looked at each other and realized we need to look at things differently,” added Bisher. “Although we spent almost nine months working on the idea, it still seemed that there are missing information.”  

Tanda’s hard work paid off. At the end of the camp, Ghaith and Bisher presented their startup to an expert panel of judges. The startup won first place and included $2,000 USD for the apps development—a welcomed prize for the brothers, who say funding is one of the hardest challenges they face.  

“It was an ecstatic feeling, the connections we built and potential partnerships will allow us to bring our business to life,” Ghaith said. “We are motivated more than ever to keep pushing and launch our business within the first quarter of 2018.” 

The brothers said they are planning a soft pilot for their mobile app with 100 to 200 users. They are hoping the pilot will attract more investors in the region who will help make Tanda a more robust app ready to launch.  

The soft pilot will be a big milestone for the team of brothers, and by completing the GIST Startup Boot Camp, Bisher and Ghaith feel better prepared for their launch.

“GIST made us realize that being an entrepreneur is an actual job title that requires continuous learning and progression,” said Ghaith. “The boot camp allowed us to mature as entrepreneurs and look at problems differently.”