After several years building a pioneering female-focused angel investment platform in the Middle East, and just after the buzzing launch of their media platform Womedia, Womena is now launching Womentum, an early-stage accelerator for the MENA region that will set out to support tech startups with at least one female founder.
“The entire aim was to introduce not only female-led startups, but a higher calibre of startups in general to the Middle Eastern entrepreneurial ecosystem,” explains Womena’s founder, Elissa Freiha. “We were sick and tired of hearing other players saying that the lack of female representation was because of a lack of pipeline, when we, as Womena, we seeing that we were getting a lot of raw, natural applications from female-led businesses. Add the fact that female-led businesses, tend to perform better and have a higher return on investment and create more jobs. It was really a no brainer for us to launch a programme like this,” she tells Startup Scene ME.
“We were sick and tired of hearing other players saying that the lack of female representation was because of a lack of pipeline,” says Womena’s founder Elissa Freiha.
In partnership with Impact Hub Berlin and the TECOM Group, the four-month accelerator programme is designed to give early stage startups the best of both worlds: immersion in Berlin’s innovative ecosystem and connection to investors, mentors and regional markets from the Dubai hub. The program will follow a blended model with in-person sessions in Berlin and Dubai as well as a remote execution phase involving virtual mentorship to allow entrepreneurs to validate their products in localized contexts.
“We’re also excited to finally see an accelerator that will be managed and led by people that have actually gone through the exact same experience these entrepreneurs are going to be going through. We are female entrepreneurs form the Middle East and we know what it takes to make it happen here,” Freiha says. “So we’re excited to pass on that knowledge and be a relevant voice of support for this startups.”
Last February, the Angel Investment platform launched their media branch, Womedia, in Dubai’s Jumeirah Towers.
Beyond support, womentum and its participants will be documented through a web series of 25 unique ‘Shark Tank meets Project Runway’ episodes. Their successes and struggles will be portrayed in weekly videos, showing the reality of the entrepreneurial life. The womentum program will launch in Berlin in July and culminate with a final demo day in Dubai in October. As founders travel between Berlin and Dubai, they will embark on a quest to build the strongest company while winning the confidence of the audience and investors to capture the $50,000 prize.
“With our history of angel investing, we’re pretty sure that we will be seeing some of the most exciting startups we’ve seen in a while come out of this accelerator,” says Freiha. Leveraging womena’s content platform womedia, the womentum web series will build on the existing audience to give participating startups global exposure and access to an early customer base in their regional markets. The programme will also aim to promote entrepreneurship, innovation and strong female role models in business and technology
Womentum’s application is now open for early-stage tech startups that have at least one female-founder here.
Photography by @MO4Network’s #MO4Productions.
Photographer: Abanoub Ramsis.