DUBAI, UAE, June 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- 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's founder 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.
womena® is a multi-dimensional media company that accelerates equality through creative content and entrepreneurial experiences.
We produce creative content focused on female founders, creatives and changemakers. Our flagship accelerator program, womentum, is an experience-based early-stage accelerator for female-led tech startups in the Middle East, and aims to increase the pipeline of women entrepreneurs in the regional ecosystem. The accelerator is documented through our media platform and produced into a docu-series called Womentum. Our womena Bossladies network has the largest number of female entrepreneurs and investors in the Middle East.
All of these elements come together to make womena® the leading ecosystem enabler for diversity and inclusion in MENA. To date we have facilitated over 3 million AED in funding into MENA-based startups while our educational programs, which aim to increase the pipeline of entrepreneurs in MENA, have reached over 400 students at universities across the UAE.
QUOTES FROM THE STARTUP FOUNDERS
Chefaa founders: Doaa Aref (CEO) and Rasha Rady (COO)
"We are in a process of continuous learning, so with the mentoring, networking and Demo Day full of passionate investors, Womentum just makes the perfect partner in this part of our journey."
Dabchy founders: Ameni Mansouri (CEO), Ghazi Ketata (Product Manager) and Oussama Mahjoub (CTO)
"We are proud to join Womentum, where the expertise and partnerships will improve our execution and ensure our growth through access to a large network and regional market. Our business is growing and we need to think global."
FreshSource founders: Farah Emara (CEO) and Omar Emara (COO)
"We are excited that FreshSource has been selected as part of the Womentum cohort. We see a lot of value that womena has brought and will bring to developing our startup and catalyzing our growth."
Luxury Promise founder: Sabrina Sadiq (CEO)
"One woman can make a difference, but together we can rock this world. This is what Womentum is all about: strong visionary women supporting each other. I'm excited to share this journey with them."
Pas-sport founders: Nada Zaher (CEO), Youssef Hammoud (CTO) and Rami El-Erian (COO)
"I was one of the first people to apply to Womentum in Cycle 1, but pas-sport was at an early stage. We've been working to get pas-sport where it needs to be. After watching the Womentum Series, there is nothing we wanted more than to be a part of this program."
MakerBrane founders: Ayssar Arida (CEO) and Sabine De Maussion (COO)
"We are on a mission to bring diversity to the global toy industry. The Womentum team has been great and I'm confident this will be an amazing support to me as a woman founder."
Dimension 14 founders: Melda Akin (CEO) and Chris Wallace (CGO)
"A wise guy once said, 'A ship is always safe at shore, but that is not what it is built for.' Dimension 14 can't wait to set sail with the 2019 Womentum cohort."
Maj Solution founders: Michella Aboujawdeh (CEO) and Joe Harb (CTO)
"I feel like the Womena team is involved and accompanying me in my journey, and the commitment to their mission gives me hope and motivation. It is a gate to the exposure and opportunities that were missing and necessary to my success."