We have conducted an in-depth research of the tech landscape locally, in MENA, and globally. We have encountered shocking numbers – out of USD 651 million that was invested in tech startups in 2017, only 11% of total funds were invested in teams with at least one female founder and the cumulative number of female start up founders in MENA is only 14%. That is definitely not good enough and we decided to do something about it! We have partnered with Womena, a multi-dimensional media company that accelerates equality through creative content and entrepreneurial experiences. They directly talk to our goals in their early stage accelerator for female led startups.
As a Bank, supporting women-led start-ups is one of our Sustainability pillars and Women in Tech programme fits well with our approach.
“We are pleased to be launching the “Womentum” programme alongside womena for the second consecutive year. We’ve seen an incredible impact as the startups from previous cycles have raised $6 million in funding. This year is going to be even more critical as we plan to equip the startups with the right business mindset and capabilities to help them pivot their business model post COVID. Investing in communities is one of the three priorities of the bank’s comprehensive sustainability strategy as we’ve continuously demonstrated through our flagship initiatives. We look forward to continuing to impart significant impact across the female entrepreneurial landscape and provide them with the tools necessary to navigate the everchanging market landscape, so much so following the COVID-19 pandemic. ” said Rola Abu Manneh, chief executive officer of Standard Chartered Bank UAE.
The unique experience-based accelerator follows a blended model where startups are immersed in one of the region’s most vibrant investment hubs during the Dubai bootcamp, complemented with virtual support before and after conducted remotely in their home countries. The three top-performing startups will be awarded a total of $30,000 in equity-free prize money following the completion of the programme.
“We’re determined to continue with our Womentum Accelerator in 2020 having amended its structure, content as well as the eligibility of the cohort to incorporate the massive changes brought about by the COVID-19 crisis. We want to show that working towards inclusion should never stop, and that true innovation comes from perseverance and diversity in thought to address needs in a time of crisis.” said Elissa Freiha, womena® founder and managing director.
Set to begin operations later this September, the upscaled “Womentum” programme is geared towards empowering female entrepreneurs to confront the challenges of uncertain times as they grow their impact-driven businesses across the AME region. The “Womentum” accelerator has begun operations in New York, Kenya, Pakistan, Nigeria and Bahrain. We have shortlisted five of MENA’s top women-led start-ups with Womena our partner.
The winners selected for the 2020 cohort are:
- Finyal Media (UAE) is a podcast network creating Arabic content targeting the MENA region, helping young people reconnect with the Arab world by bringing culturally relevant stories in a contemporary on-demand format.
- Explore Agora (Egypt) is an EdTech startup connecting education to the real world through gamified learning experiences. Explore Agora uses machine learning to identify the objects that surround the student and then through AR, transform those objects into interactive learning tools.
- Mint Basil (Lebanon) is an e-commerce platform focused on healthy, natural products while providing curated content to its audience, with in-house health coaches and a community of health experts.
- Shadana Yoga (Palestine) is a subscription-based platform that offers online courses and stress-relief tools and wellbeing using Yoga, Ayurveda and other forms of holistic healing in Arabic.
- The Hair Addict (Egypt) aims to challenge societal norms around natural hair and encourage women to care for their hair in a healthy way. Natural hair products and tools are available on the online store, and all Ingredients are sourced and prepared locally.
This year Standard Chartered Bank will award the three top-performing startups a total of $30,000 in equity-free prize money at the end of the program.