We want to validate your solution and scale your business

Join the American Express Middle East 'ACCELERATE ME' Programme, powered by Nest to take your startup to the next level!

Situated in Bahrain, the gateway to the Arabian Gulf region, American Express Middle East serves 16 fast-growing markets and is looking for startups to help increase its digital footprint and further personalise its services. American Express Middle East's customer profile is evolving, as the Middle East is the most youthful region of the world, with near-universal mobile data coverage and smartphone usage in most countries.

The 8-weeks ACCELERATE ME Programme will provide the opportunity to test and run PoCs with American Express Middle East and for you to explore the Middle East’s emerging startup ecosystem. The programme welcomes companies from around the world, with travel expenses covered and no equity requirement.

ACCELERATE ME aims to deliver real commercial solutions. Details of specific opportunities are below.

Applications closed on Aug 24, 2018.

What we're trying to solve

We’re looking for a fresh perspective to solve these challenges:

We want more places to welcome American Express. What technologies can make it easier for us to work with new SMEs and online retailers?

This is key to improving customer experience, especially for young people who are increasingly favouring online shopping and home grown concepts and brands.

Areas of focus

  • Innovative means to accept American Express transactions without relying on traditional Point of Sale (PoS) terminals
  • Seamless mechanisms for onboarding merchants digitally
We want to use social and other external data to streamline customer interactions and anticipate our customers’ needs.

Wherever possible, we want to use available data to make it easier for us to onboard new customers, to offer customers relevant rewards, and generally streamline the experience.

Areas of focus

  • New approaches to credit scoring, using non-traditional sources of data.
  • Real-time risk monitoring using internal and external data
  • Automated ways to update customer preference data
  • Data-driven, customised customer offers
We want to provide funding and payment mechanisms to help SMEs grow their businesses in a seamless manner.

The process of getting a credit facility approved is a challenging process, especially for SMEs. In addition, the underwriting metrics may not be fully applicable to a striving modern and digital business. We are seeking solutions that enable seamless funding and payments services for SME’s.

Areas of focus

  • New approaches to credit scoring and credit monitoring for SMEs
  • Complimentary, value-added services for SMEs
As our Cardmember demographics change, we need to offer a new suite of bespoke services and experiences.

As a market leader in Travel Services, we are interested in innovative travel service offerings for our individual and business customers. We are also interested in more general lifestyle services to enhance our local rewards offerings.

Areas of focus

  • Customised travel booking services that deliver the best possible value and best possible personalised experience to our CardMembers.
  • Innovative local lifestyle services and service access platforms
  • Platforms for managing booking of services and use of rewards points

Who We're Looking For

1. Early stage startups from Seed to Series B stage

2. Ideally, startups that have a functioning prototype with a product ready to be validated in a commercial setting or are revenue-generating and looking to scale into new high potential markets

3. Teams that are committed to spending 6 weeks with us on the ground with American Express Middle East to develop a proof-of-concept (PoC)

4. Specifically, the programme aims to facilitate actionable solutions to the four targeted areas of focus listed above


Scale Your Business
A chance to integrate your solutions with American Express Middle East and open new revenue streams to a region thirsty for tech solutions

Travel Grant
Explore an untapped and well-resourced region, with significant support available for local and foreign startups alike. Flights and accommodation in Bahrain on us (6 weeks on the ground)

Dedicated Office Space
Office space in Bahrain

Mentorship & Resources
Individually-tailored business growth support from Nest’s startup specialists and industry experts in finance, technology and startups

Commercial Driven
Nest’s proven, commercially-driven, accelerator support to enhance your ability to work with corporates and make the most of the growing opportunity in the Middle East region

A Lifetime Membership at Mettā
A member’s club for the global community

Alumni Network
Become part of Nest’s alumni network and vibrant entrepreneurial community

Curated Introductions
Introductions to quality global investors with proven track records and a chance to pitch at our Demo Day



How does the application process work?

Interested startups can apply online here, which directs you to a dedicated application page.

The application includes a set of straightforward questions regarding your company, operating model and team. You’ll have the opportunity to include a pitch deck that describes your business.
As part of the selection process, startups can expect that American Express Middle East and Nest may reach out to ask for further information, and potentially invite startups to a one-on-one call with various American Express Middle East business units and Nest representatives to assess business case application and share preliminary feedback. These one-on-one engagement sessions with American Express Middle East will only be arranged for shortlisted applications.

How does the programme structure look like?

The total length of the programme is 8 weeks:
  • 2 weeks off-shore with initial virtual engagement with American Express Middle East working team and mentors
  • 6 weeks on-shore in Bahrain to collaborate with your American Express Middle East mentors, culminating with a Demo Day to demonstrate your solutions to American Express Middle East and local investors
Yes. We are open to startups from all over the world. Your travel and accommodation will be covered.
Bahrain is a sunny 765 km2 island in the heart of the Arabian Gulf, a small yet very diverse population of 1.4 million. The kingdom combines modern Arab culture and the archaeological legacy of five thousand years of civilisation. The region is ranked #1 freest economy in MENA with 35% of the population under 35. Learn more about Bahrain here.

Have a question? get in touch.

Applications closed on Aug 24, 2018.

About American Express Middle East

About Nest