DUBAI — womena has selected eight startups to take part in Cycle 2 of its Womentum Accelerator, a four-month experience-based program focused on growing female-led tech startups in the Middle East and North Africa.
Womentum 2019, a women in tech accelerator by womena, in partnership with Standard Chartered, will take the startups to Berlin and Dubai for an immersive experience in these two vibrant hubs, with a remote mentorship period in between.
This year, womena has partnered with Standard Chartered as Womentum’s exclusive banking sponsor, bringing even more expertise and opportunities to the startups.
“After an incredible first cohort and such strong community support, Womentum is back this year to accelerate another batch of women-led startups in the Middle East,” says Elissa Freiha, womena founder and managing director.
“Our cohort represents every area of the MENA region, Tunisia and Egypt from North Africa, UAE from the Gulf and Lebanon from the Levant,” she adds.
Around 200 applications came in from across the MENA region, and the startups were shortlisted for several rounds of interviews until the final eight winners were selected.
“The Womentum selection this year speaks to the maturity of female-founded startups in the Middle East,” says Christina Andreassen, managing director of Womentum Accelerator. “All of these companies have phenomenal businesses from a large diversity of industries, ranging from construction tech to virtual goods and gaming,” she adds.
The top-performing startups will receive access to $160,000: up to $100,000 in direct investment from womena’sfounder and $60,000 in prize money awarded by Standard Chartered.
“At Standard Chartered, we embrace and celebrate diversity, including gender diversity. In the world of tech, women are often under-represented and face many challenges that limit their ability to thrive,” says Rola Abu Manneh, CEO of Standard Chartered. “We are proud to launch the women in tech accelerator in collaboration with womena. Womentum aims to support, mentor and connect aspiring and established women-led startups in the region,” she adds.
The winners selected for the 2019 cohort are (quotes from founders can be found below):
- Maj Solution (Lebanon) is a customizable product management tool for construction projects that automates workflows using AI technology while collecting real-time data analytics.
- 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) delivers AI powered decision making systems for mobility, education, healthcare and e-commerce sectors.
- 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.
Womentum leverages womena’s media platform to highlight the founders, startups and the program curriculum. “As a media company, we offer startups in our accelerator a unique opportunity to be exposed to an engaged regional audience, as well as a growing global one, through diverse types of media and storytelling formats,” says Amira Salah-Ahmed, womena’s chief media officer.
The Womentum Series documents the unique program and follows the journey of the founders to see how it has impacted their personal and professional lives. womena’s media team follows participating startups from Berlin to Dubai, with visits to 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.
“In the first season of Womentum Series, we gave our audience a rare look into the real lives of entrepreneurs,” says Salah-Ahmed. “We witnessed both their milestones and their struggles: from nailing sales meetings to stressful product deployments, and even unexpected shifts in co-founder dynamics,” she adds.
In Season 2, womena’s production team will take an even deeper look at the founders and their businesses. “We were happy to see our audience grow exponentially as the first season of Womentum Series aired, and we are looking forward to giving this year’s cohort access to an even bigger audience,” says Salah-Ahmed.
The four-month program kicks off with two weeks of in-person sessions in Berlin, then startups go through a remote execution phase in their home countries, where they receive virtual mentorship as they work to validate their products in localized contexts. A two-week Dubai bootcamp preps startups to be investment-ready ahead of an exclusive Demo Day that brings together key players in the regional ecosystem.
For the 2019 cycle, womena has built an improved program supported by a wider network of partners and mentors.
The Womentum partnership with Standard Chartered is in line with the bank’s community engagement strategy’s entrepreneurship pillar and is part of their longstanding commitment to supporting women in tech through programs with a female focus in New York, Nairobi and Karachi.
Standard Chartered will engage with Womentum startups by offering mentorship through select workshops that are part of the acceleration program. “Our staff and partners are here to mentor the startups, help them scale and equip them with skills that are necessary to thrive in today’s world,” says Abu Manneh.
The 2019 cycle is also made possible with the support of Latham & Watkins, Womentum’s legal partner for the second year in a row, providing one-on-one legal mentorship and advice throughout the cycle. Boston Consulting Group is also partnering to provide free consultation hours to each Womentum startup as well as consulting hackathons and trainings.
For the first bootcamp, Womentum will once again be hosted by Impact Hub Berlin, which is supporting the program with knowledge, networks and training in Berlin. Meanwhile, Berlin Partner is supporting Womentum startups with connections, visas and access to the market.
“We’ve enhanced this year’s program to focus on custom experience-based learnings and more extensive one-on-one mentorship as well as expanded upon the mental health and wellness integrations through the dynamic EQ sessions,” says Freiha.