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Futuremakers Women in Tech

Wit UAE Winners

25 Jan 2024

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Successfully completing its fifth cohort in October 2023, Futuremakers Women in Tech continued to champion the innovation of women entrepreneurs and support them to drive their green and social businesses further.

Women entrepreneurs win seed capital to spur innovation

Three female entrepreneurs have concluded their transformative journey on the Women in Tech (WiT) accelerator programme in the UAE by winning USD100,000 in equity-free seed capital to propel their success.

As part of Futuremakers by Standard Chartered, we partnered with Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Innovation Hub to empower women entrepreneurs in the technology sector through Women in Tech. Women in Tech is an immersive seven-week programme offers targeted support, tailored training, workshops, and specialised mentorship to accelerate women-led start-ups.

At the demo day, 11 start-up teams chosen from a pool of applicants showcased their innovative business ventures to a panel of potential investors, industry experts and thought leaders.

Innovation is the foundation of success

The panel picked three winners – in first place, Nour Taher, co-founder and CEO at Intella, received USD50,000. In second, co-founder and CEO Lara Hussein at The Waste Lab won USD30,000, and in third place, Dr Anushka Patchava, co-founder and chief product officer at Wellx, secured USD20,000.

All three start-ups exemplify women’s potential in the tech sector and their spirit of innovation. Intella builds and fine-tunes machine-learning models to bridge the gap for the Arabic speaking world. The Waste Lab specialises in making compost out of food scraps, and Wellx offers a hyper-personalised digital insurance solution to reduce cost and increase population health.

Networking is the key to unlock business potential

Women entrepreneurs became involved in the programme for similar reasons:

Nour wanted to connect and network with other women business founders and learn from their experiences. She said: “I’m a true believer that women need to leverage forming a strong female support group.”

Lara saw “an opportunity to learn new and important lessons to grow the business, support her team, connect with other amazing women founders and learn from mentors and their experiences”.

Dr Anushka said: “I hoped to be able not only to access great insights from my peers, but also, more broadly within the ecosystem, across sectors, and to gain a better understanding of the local business environment, market dynamics and culture.”

Market gaps spark meaningful business ideas

The three winners have a talent for spotting gaps in the technology market and a passion for creating societal impact from their businesses:

For years, Nour had observed tech companies prioritising English over other languages and missing out on Arabic.

Nour said: “This pattern of prioritising English and later adding other languages is still evident in the development of AI models today. I am passionate about bridging this gap and availing the latest technologies to the 375 million-plus Arabic speakers globally.”

Living in a Dubai apartment, Lara and her co-founder had no space or time to compost their food scraps and could find no solution on the market. It inspired their business idea for nature-based composting.

Lara said: “As soon as we realised that we could turn our biggest problem, food waste, into a solution that helps regenerate the soil through the application of compost, there was no turning back. This would also lead the way for more regenerative farming, food security, organic production and reversing climate change.”

Three factors inspired Dr Anushka. First was improving the value that health and life insurance bring customers and empowering insurers to take responsibility. Second, as a doctor, she has a “real hunger to make a difference in healthcare and health outcomes”. Third, all the founders had “a real desire to give back to society”.

Valuable learnings accelerate growth

The entrepreneurs gained invaluable benefits from the Futuremakers Women in Tech programme’s resources and connections that will help their businesses to grow.

Lara said: “We gained access to a network of investors, partners, and potential customers that would have been otherwise difficult to reach. The programme’s pitch session allowed us to showcase our progress and generate interest from investors who can later become crucial supporters of our venture.”

Nour shared her most valuable learnings – business exposure to potential clients, partners and investors, and the support system from other female founders and mentors.

Dr Anushka also praised the networking and significant learning from the training. She added: “These sessions, led by experts in the field, were hugely beneficial in helping me solve some of the daily problems I face in my role at Wellx, and having space and thought partnership throughout the programme to do this has catalysed my business and personal growth.”

Trio presses forward with their visions

The Futuremakers Women in Tech programme has cemented Wellx’s future business plan, vision and mission. She said: “The collaborative nature of the programme and new contacts I gained will help me build my business in either sales or funding – both of which I am hugely grateful for!”

Nour added: “Receiving feedback on our business model is always a crucial part of the learning curve. As entrepreneurs, we must evolve every day to keep the business going.”

Lara said: “I had the incredible privilege of participating in this programme, and I can’t express enough how thankful I am for the support, industry knowledge and genuine passion expressed by the team and mentors for helping us succeed.”