AUGUST 17, 2020 – DUBAI: Womentum Cycle 3 is set to launch in September with five women-led tech startups and a revamped program geared toward empowering founders to confront the challenges of uncertain times as they grow their impact-driven businesses in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Womentum by womena® and Standard Chartered’s Women in Tech is a three-month acceleration program focused on women-led tech startups from across the MENA region. Womentum has adapted its curriculum to give Cycle 3 startups the tools they need to navigate uncertain times, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, by adding relevant topics such as pivoting and making your business more agile, cash flow management and bootstrapping as well as improving customer experience.
“We’re determined to continue with our Womentum Accelerator in 2020 having amended its structure, content, as well as the eligibility of the cohort to incorporate the massive changes, brought about by the COVID-19 crisis,” says Elissa Freiha, womena® Founder and Managing Director. “We want to show that working towards inclusion should never stop, and that true innovation comes from perseverance and diversity in thought to address needs in a time of crisis,” Freiha adds.
Rola Abu Manneh, Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank UAE, says, “This year is going to be even more critical as we plan to equip the startups with the right business mindset and capabilities to help them pivot their business model post-COVID.”
The partnership 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.
Founders in the program will also have access to womena®’s wider network ecosystem partners, and each startup will receive more than $20,000 worth of tech, legal and consulting services.
Boston Consulting Group has joined Womentum for the third year as the program’s Consulting Partner, providing free consultation hours to each startup, dedicated one-one-one mentorship as well as a consulting hackathon in the Dubai bootcamp.
The 2020 cycle is also made possible with the support of Latham & Watkins, Womentum’s legal partner also for the third year, will provide one-on-one legal mentorship and advice throughout the cycle.
Google For Startups is once again partnering with the accelerator as the Demo Day event sponsor. To cater to the needs and restrictions of the times, Womentum will host a virtual Demo Day that will be open to a larger investor pool from the region and beyond.
As the Exclusive Location Partner, the Rove Downtown will host the founders during their stay in Dubai as well as hosting all the sessions, workshops and events of the two-week bootcamp throughout their property and facilities.
“In a time where people strive for authentic communities for support, we’re thrilled to work with a group of startups that provide exactly that,” says Habiba Helmy, Womentum’s managing director.
The winners selected for the 2020 cohort are (quotes from founders can be found below):
- Finyal Media (UAE) is a podcast network creating Arabic content targeting the MENA region, helping young people reconnect with the Arab world by bringing culturally relevant stories in a contemporary on-demand format.
- Explore Agora (Egypt) is an EdTech startup connecting education to the real world through gamified learning experiences. Using machine learning to identify the objects that surround the student, the app uses augmented reality to transform those objects into interactive learning tools.
- Mint Basil Market (Lebanon) is an e-commerce platform focused on healthy, natural products while providing curated content to its audience, with in-house health coaches and a community of health experts.
- Shadana Yoga (Palestine) is a subscription-based platform that offers online courses and stress-relief tools and wellbeing using Yoga, Ayurveda and other forms of holistic healing in Arabic.
- The Hair Addict (Egypt) aims to challenge societal norms around natural hair and encourage women to care for their hair in a healthy way. Natural hair products and tools are available on the online store, with all ingredients sourced and prepared locally.
“From serving the community’s mental and physical health to educating children through artificial intelligence, boosting women’s confidence by driving the natural hair movement, these diverse startups have proved they have what it takes to thrive in a global crisis,” Helmy adds.
Womentum is powered by womena®’s media content, which highlights the founders and their startups as they go through the program, as well as produces a documentary series that follows their personal and professional journey. Catch Season 2 of the Womentum Series on womena’s YouTube channel.
“By bringing the stories and voices of female innovators, creatives and changemakers to a global audience, we hope to inspire, motivate, excite, empower and drive real, sustainable and long-lasting change in our communities,” Amira Salah-Ahmed, womena®’s chief media officer, says.