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.
Womena our partner has shortlisted 7 female-led tech start ups in their earlier call for application where start-ups were challenged to go out of their comfort zone, starting their mission with a two-week bootcamp in Berlin – which was the first leg of the Womentum programme, where they were heavily involved on sharpening their company positioning and enhancing their pitching skills. Right after that, start-ups got into an execution phase, senior leaders from the Bank invested hours with the start-ups supporting and helping them scale, and equipping them with skills that are necessary to thrive in today’s world. The winners selected for the 2019 cohort are:
- Fresh Source (Egypt) is disrupting the national horticulture agri-chain through innovative solutions that connect small-time farmers to the modern value chain, saving farmers money and preventing food loss.
- Chefaa (Egypt) is an AI-powered on-demand marketplace for pharmaceutical products, helping patients easily access medicine and scheduling delivery by uploading prescription or using the search engine.
- Luxury Promise (UAE) is a marketplace for pre-loved luxury goods delivered with speed and authenticity. AI visual recognition can identify and value products while human experts use anti-counterfeit technology.
- Pas-sport (Egypt) is a matchmaking platform that connects local and regional athletes with sports scholarships at universities globally. Athletes are smartly-matched with universities that can recruit directly.
- Dimension 14 (UAE) is an AI-powered tool for scheduling and automated decision making in organizations with complex systems, such as scheduling in universities or roster and fleet management.
- Makerbrane (Lebanon) is a peer-to-peer virtual makerspace where toy creators can design, build and trade digital toys using virtual building materials and play instructions that can be replicated in real life.
- Dabchy (Tunisia) is a pre-loved goods marketplace operating in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco where the online community can buy and sell clothes, bags and accessories.
At the end of the journey, start-ups made it to Dubai: the regional investment hub, and there started the second leg of Womentum programme where they spent two intensive weeks focusing on topics like scaling architecture, branding, media, public relations, leadership insights, and much more. Not only that, they’ve had their business models validated by mentors, investors and consulting firms, they’ve rebranded, built world-class tech, achieved double digit growth rates, and proven that they have the business acumen and work ethic to lead some of MENA’s leading tech companies.
Seniors from the Bank awarded three top startups equity-free cash prizes worth a total of USD 50,000 at the Demo Day, where the cohort pitched their ideas to an audience of the region’s top investors and ecosystem players.
We are so proud to see the first cohort of our flagship accelerator programme graduating and joining the community of successful start-ups in the region. The Women in Tech programme is a promising step in the right direction as it captures the essence of Bank’s Sustainability strategy of Futuremakers, enabling the next generation to learn, earn and grow. Click here to watch.