womena® graduated the second cycle of its Womentum Accelerator, empowering seven of the top female-led tech startups from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
After four months of acceleration, the founders are now well-positioned to grow and scale their businesses in the region.
“When womena® preaches diversity as a core value of innovation, we mean diversity in all aspects: gender, experience, faith, industry, age, and socio-economic levels,” says Elissa Freiha, founder of womena®. “We are proud of the true diversity shown amongst this year’s Womentum cohort.”
Womentum 2019, a women in tech accelerator by womena® in partnership with Standard Chartered, took the startups to Berlin and Dubai for an immersive experience in the two vibrant hubs, with a remote mentorship period in between, before wrapping up with an exclusive Demo Day on October 10.
Standard Chartered awarded three startups equity-free cash prizes worth a total of $50,000 at Demo Day, after the cohort pitched to an audience of the region’s top investors and ecosystem players.
Winning $25,000 in the first place, FreshSource (Egypt) is disrupting the agri value chain through innovative solutions that connect smallholder farmers to the modern value chain. The second place worth $15,000 went to Pas-sport (Egypt), setting out to transform athletes’ lives by unlocking global opportunities and connecting them to sports scholarships. The third prize winner of $10,000 was Dimension 14 (UAE), a one-stop-shop for advanced planning problems within a single AI-powered application.
“After four months of accelerating talented women-led startups, we are proud to see the cohort graduate and join the growing community of successful startups in the region,” says Rola Abu Manneh, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank UAE. “The Women in Tech program is a promising step in the right direction, capturing the essence of the bank’s sustainability strategy of future makers, enabling the next generation to learn, earn and grow,” says Abu Manneh.
Through the program, the top-performing startups will also receive up to $100,000 in direct investment from the founder of womena®.
Supported by Event Sponsor Google for Startups, this year’s Demo Day was an exclusive event for investors, mentors and media, showcasing the startups to the regional ecosystem.
“Womentum 2019’s graduating cohort has been through four months of intense business building and development in order to be ready to scale and be hypergrowth businesses,” says Christina Andreassen, Womentum’s managing director.
“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 to us that they have the business acumen and work ethic to lead some of MENA’s leading tech companies,” Andreassen adds.
The accelerator also leveraged womena®Media to tell the stories of the founders and their businesses to an expansive audience, giving them global exposure and access to an early customer base in regional markets. The founders’ experiences were documented for Season 2 of the Womentum Series, which follows the journey of the founders to see how it has impacted their personal and professional lives.
The womena®Media team and a dedicated series production crew followed participating startups from Berlin to Dubai, and visited their home countries during the remote period, to see how they implement the advice and mentorship from the accelerator as well as how they deal with the personal and professional challenges.
Womentum 2019, powered by the invaluable support of our dedicated partners, kicked off in July after an intense and multi-tiered selection process. Startups from a wide range of industries were chosen from among 200 applicants from across the MENA region..
“With companies in everything from fashion, to healthcare, to agriculture, and hailing from North Africa to the Levant and the GCC; we believe that their incredible growth over the last four months is not only a representation of our strength as a program, but of their strength as an open, curious, diverse, multicultural and multi disciplinary cohort,” Freiha says.
Womentum follows a blended model designed to give startups mentorship, access to capital and networks as well as media exposure, with a focus on integrating emotional intelligence (EQ) session into the program
The startups were paired with mentors from Standard Chartered during the remote mentorship period, who they got to meet in Dubai for dedicated one-on-one sessions focused on their respective businesses. “Seniors from the bank have invested hours with the startups, supporting and helping them scale, and equipping them with skills that are necessary to thrive in today’s world,” Abu Manneh says.
The program’s Consulting Partner Boston Consulting Group supported Womentum by providing free consultation hours to each startup as well as consulting hackathons in both the Berlin and Dubai bootcamps. In Berlin, six consultants visited the startups to get to know their stories and business models, while in Dubai, a team of more than 40 consultants dedicated their Annual Community Service Day to consulting with the startups.
As our Official Legal Partner, Latham & Watkins provided one-on-one legal mentorship to the startups throughout the four-month cycle, during both bootcamps as well as the remote period in between.
The program’s Dubai bootcamp was hosted by our Co-working Partner nook, where the startups attended the program sessions, hackathons and workshops and got access to the working and wellness space. Supporting founders with rides around Dubai, our Transportation Partner Careem gave our founders a dedicated promo code throughout their entire stay. Fueling the Dubai bootcamp, our Catering Partner Talabat gave all our founders access to a diverse range of on-demand delivery options.
“We’re so proud to be a part of their journey and be able to tell their stories in order to be able to inspire other female founders throughout MENA,” says Andreassen.