Village Capital’s Finance Forward MENA 2020 selects 11 fintech startups for its accelerator program

Village Capital’s Finance Forward MENA 2020 selects 11 fintech startups for its accelerator program
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Featured image: Alicia Sornson, Manager of Programs & Partnerships in MENA at Village Capital; Credits: Supplied


  • Each startup will receive $45,000 and three others will receive $20,000 in grant funding from MetLife Foundation

Village Capital, with support from MetLife Foundation and PayPal, on Monday, announced that it has selected 11 fintech startups from UAE, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia to provide equity-free investment as a part of Finance Forward MENA 2020 programme. An investment-readiness programme, Finance Forward MENA 2020 is part of Finance Forward, a multi-year global coalition to support entrepreneurs on four continents who are building tech-enabled solutions to place-based challenges around financial health.

Congratulating the winners, Alicia Sornson, Manager of Programs & Partnerships in MENA at Village Capital, in a press statement said,

“We congratulate the winners who, like their peers, are striving to put peoples’ lives and businesses on stronger financial footing in one of the most unequal regions in the world. Now more than ever, their solutions are needed to help address challenges which have only intensified due to the pandemic. The region’s entrepreneurs are well-qualified and highly motivated to achieve impact and we will be following their progress with great interest.”

Speaking of the programme, Ossman Charabati, SVP, Head of Employee Benefits EMEA and Head of Levant at MetLife, and Advisory Board member for Finance Forward, said,

“By bringing together a group of emerging fintechs through Finance Forward, we are able to elevate organizations that are at the forefront of financial health in MENA. MetLife Foundation and MetLife congratulate Distichain and Markit for developing powerful new business models that will help ensure lower-income people and small businesses benefit from the financial sector in the region.”

The participants were selected with guidance from the Finance Forward MENA Advisory Board and the program was executed with local partners Beyond Capital, Impact Hub Istanbul and EFG-EV Fintech.

Distichain and Markit were selected for investment by a group of peer entrepreneurs on the final day of Finance Forward MENA 2020, a five-week-long virtual venture development program managed by Village Capital in collaboration with MetLife Foundation and PayPal. The 11 entrepreneurs in the program evaluated each other through an investor lens, using eight specific investment criteria that leverage Village Capital’s Abaca Pathway. Distichain and Markit were ranked “most investment ready.” The two companies are focused on the following:

  • Distichain (UAE) is an e-commerce and e-procurement platform that facilitates open trade between companies, regardless of geography or size, by partnering with banks to evaluate transaction risk in real-time.
  • Markit (Lebanon) is an on-demand grocery delivery service, allowing small and medium-sized grocers to offer their inventory and delivery services to customers through an online platform.

Three additional companies, Datacultr Fintech Limited, HubPay and Buyback Bazaar Technology, who ranked 3-5 in the peer review process, will receive $20,000 in grant funding from Metlife Foundation. These three companies are focused on the following:

  • Datacultr Fintech Limited (UAE) is a platform that allows lending institutions to use smartphones as collateral for loans to new-to-credit customers while allowing devices to remain in the users’ possession.
  • HubPay (