Deloitte Report on Women Investors  

We know women investors have a very important role to play in investment. We wouldn’t be here otherwise. So it’s always a satisfying feeling when we read a report from one of the world’s top financial institutions confirming this. Deloitte recently published the report: “Women investors: a critical and growing factor for success in the wealth management industry”. The report concludes that women investors present a significant opportunity for wealth management firms but specific capabilities will need to be developed.

Deloitte highlights some remarkable and revealing statistics to back up their arguments. Women control $20 trillion of the world’s wealth and two-thirds of women in the United States, the UK, China, Hong Kong and Singapore are the primary decision makers over household assets. Simply staggering numbers that extend to the UAE as well.

Deloitte recommends three changes to the way wealth management firms work for female investors:

  1. Serve the needs of the woman investor with financial education being particularly important
  2. Provide the deserved investor experience to ensure women feel the added value of financial advisors
  3. Cater to the investment preferences of women who are more likely to favour investments with a social impact

At WOMENA our angel investment platform is as flexible as possible for these very three reasons. Education is at the heart of what we do with our monthly workshops and personalised education syllabus for each member and the majority of the startups that have pitched to our members have a social impact.

To read the full report from Deloitte, click here.

Our Tenth Pitch Meeting  

Our tenth Pitch Meeting on November 22nd saw KinTrans and Medicus pitch to our assembled members and guests. Dr. Keith Jones from Khalifa University kicked off the evening with an engaging workshop on assessing intellectual property.

KinTrans‘ device translates sign language into audio and on-screen text next time

Medicus is a platform to interpret and visualise your medical tests in order to show exactly what they mean for our exact health profile

If you were unable to attend, you can watch the recording of the event! To receive the password, please email [email protected].

WOMENA Pitch Meeting on November 22nd from WOMENA on Vimeo.

View the full album of photos here!

The Web Summit  

The Web Summit is one of the largest tech conferences in the world and this year brought 42,000 entrepreneurs, investors and press from 134 countries around the world to Dublin. With 21 different summits across the city, from an angel summit to a sports summit, huge doesn’t even begin to cover it. Chantalle and Rory both attended and were certainly impressed with its vastness!

WOMENA was there for two main reasons: to meet Middle East entrepreneurs; and meet investors from around the world to discuss best practices and examine trends in VC and entrepreneurship.

There was a surprisingly large contingent of startups from across the Middle East. As Wamda explains, the number of startups from the region quadrupled from 11 last year. Most of these startups were attending the Alpha Startup Competition, of which there were over 1,000, most of whom were from Europe but all over the world.

The investor base at the Web Summit was also substantial with GPs, LPs, angels and a host of others coming together. There were several investor related summits. WOMENA’s first experience of the Web Summit was the Angel Summit the day before the Web Summit started. It was very interesting to hear angels from around the world face similar challenges, despite many different laws, investor rights and cultures around the world.

WOMENA also attended the Investor Summit, which brought investors from across investment classes, across stages and across geographies together. There were several roundtables and panels but the standout event was with Dick Kramlich. Dick, Founding Partner of NEA and a founding father of VC, gave an excellent fireside chat and told some fascinating stories.

Following the Web Summit, Rory also attended the Surf Summit in Sligo, a town in the west of Ireland. While the focus of the Surf Summit was – as the name would suggest! – surfing, many attendees were drawn for the networking opportunities in a more casual setting to the vast Web Summit. Ireland is famed for its enormous waves and three of the top big wave surfers gave a fascinating talk on what it takes to surf these waves. For an idea of the size, check out this and this video. The weather miraculously held out for the weekend and the sun even emerged! For the west coast of Ireland in November, quite a shock!

We even have the luck of the Irish! A rainbow and a remarkably sunny day on a warm November day in Sligo, Ireland

A photo posted by WOMENA (@womena) on

After a week of Web Summit, it was time for WOMENA to say adieu to Ireland. With the Web Summit moving to Lisbon next year, it will be interesting to see if the powerful atmosphere and character can be transferred to an entirely new city. One of the best things about Web Summit is its location. The Irish are so friendly and the city is of a size that is very conducive to incorporating a conference within the city itself. Web Summit just wouldn’t work in New York or London as they’re too large.

This isn’t to say Lisbon is not great and not capable of the challenge (far from it – Rory attests Lisbon is one of his favourite cities in the world) but Dublin and Lisbon are two very different cities.  

Kerning Cultures’ Startup Series: UAE  

Kerning Cultures is a wonderful initiative to showcase the real Middle East using interactive podcasts. The aim is to portray the complexity of the region and not paint it in black and white terms, as is too frequently the case. The topics on their podcasts include philosophy, entrepreneurship, culture, history, art and technology and provide the listener with overdue complexity.

One of their first podcasts featured WOMENA Cofounder Elissa. Titled Startup Series: UAE, the participants were asked “Is Dubai the next Silicon Valley of the Middle East?”

Elissa starts off first and gave her story, her background and the starting point for WOMENA. The podcast weaves together interviews with Elissa, Baher Alhakim (the Cofounder of Medicus who is presenting at our November Pitch Meeting) and Aborz Toofani (Cofounder of Snappcard). Medicus is an intelligent platform to interpret and visualise your medical tests  Snappcard is a Dubai-based digital loyalty platform with operations across the region.

The three featured participants discussed the strengths, but also weaknesses, of the Dubai startup ecosystem. The conversation was frank and candid and while the future is bright for the Dubai startup ecosystem, the participants agreed there is still much to do.

To hear the participants thoughts, make sure you listen to the podcast. All you have to do is click the play button!

The MENA Funding Ecosystem  

As we discussed at length recently in our Why MENA blogpost, the MENA region is a very exciting area to be working with a lot of potential. That was only reinforced for us at our recent visit to the Web Summit where we spoke to numerous investors and entrepreneurs from around the world.

That’s not to say the entrepreneurship ecosystem is perfect – far from it! Funding is a serious issue for startups to overcome and we think Hasan Haider, the Founder of Tenmou and Venture Partner at 500 Startups, hit the nail on the head with this fantastic blog post. We encourage you to read it to get an idea of what needs to be done to improve the funding ecosystem in MENA.

If you want to explore the funding ecosystem in the Middle East, we encourage you to sign up for the 500 Startups’ Premoney conference on 9th December in Bahrain. Bringing together investors from around the Middle East and the world, the conference will delve into the issues the region faces and how to solve them.

Women – It’s Finally Our Century  

This is a guest post from the amazing Shaheeda Abdul Kader. We loved it and wanted to share it with our blog readers.

I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would bear witness to this wonderful era. I can barely sustain my joy, excitement.

You see, I was born in a small town in India where I became the first female in my family to go to High School, Undergrad, MBA and even work with Fortune 500 companies. Unfortunately, no other woman in my family followed me all the way. I have always felt sad about this. You see, its a hard, uphill battle.

However, the World is finally, seriously talking  about Equal Rights for Women; Equal Pay, Senior Management Positions and Board Representations for Women.

There are valuable research and reports that prove the tremendous positive impact of gainfully employed women on the GDP and Education and therefore competitiveness of nations. World Economic Forum published a report in 2014 explaining just that.

The best part is there are now Women helping other Women. Its wonderful.

Sofia Fund, for example, is run by a team of amazing Women leaders entirely supporting Women entrepreneurs. CNBC recently profiled 13 Women who broke the VC barrier.

According to a recent article in Forbes, 26% of all angel investors (USA) in 2014 were women which is a 43% increase from 2013.

So how wonderful is that in our own UAE, I had the delight and privilege to meetWOMENA – an organization that helps Women of the region become Angel Investors. It is led by 2 outstanding, brilliant young ladies, Elissa Freiha, and Chantalle Dumonceaux. They understand Women, their power as well as their trepidations of stepping into the field of investing – an area dominated my men in this region.

WOMENA not only scouts for investment opportunities, vetting startups in the region to present to their members, but most importantly they educate and help their members in understanding the investing landscape by demystifying terms like “Term Sheets”, “Prom-Note”, “Valuation”, etc. They have an excellent business model that is not threatening to a novice investor.

I personally enjoy attending their monthly events where they introduce two new start ups and invite members to consider investing post a thorough due diligence process.

I do hope that there will be more and more women participating in all aspects of a country’s growth and sustainability. I certainly intend to ride the wave, participate in it and enjoy it.

Recap of our Webinar for Entrepreneurs  

On October 13th, we hosted our first webinar for entrepreneurs and were very pleased with the results. Over 60 entrepreneurs from across the Middle East attended. We covered a number of topics including what we do, our investment process and criteria and how a startup could apply to pitch at our January, February or March Pitch meetings.  

We conceived of the webinar in response to the repeated issues we see when entrepreneurs pitch their startups to us. In particular, we think a lot of entrepreneurs can improve their decks and executive summaries with just a few simple steps and we wanted to explain what those are.

We have also heard of a few misconceptions about WOMENA we wanted to address during the webinar. For example, we have heard on several occasions male entrepreneurs have not considered WOMENA as an investor because they think we only invest in companies with a female founder. That’s not true, our investor base is solely women but we are gender-neutral when it comes to entrepreneurs.

You can watch the webinar here:

If you want to pitch at our January, February or March Pitch Meetings, please send us your deck and executive summary no later than November 15th. Following that, we will get back to you about the next steps as soon as possible.

Our Ninth Pitch Meeting  

Last week, we held our ninth Pitch Meeting at in5, which was another big success. This month’s Pitch Meeting was in partnership with TechWadi as part of their annual roadshow across the Middle East and Sharif El-Badawi gave a fantastic workshop to kick off the evening. Sharif is the Head Mentor for TechWadi as well as the Partner Lead for VCs and Startups at Google and a serial entrepreneur.

Ennota and Kanari were the two presenting companies this month, both of which gave strong pitches. 

Ennota is a simple, cloud-based financial management solution built for MENA SMEs

Kanari uses branded mobile surveys and powerful analytics to help businesses measure customer satisfaction

Thank you in5 for hosting us again and we are looking forward to returning for our Series A(ngel) Workshop on December 19th!

If you would like to view the pitches from the evening on our Vimeo channel, please contact us for the password. You can also see the photos from the event here.

Women Entrepreneurs and Crowdfunding  

Crowdfunding is one of the most recent developments in seed and angel investing. Companies that might otherwise have struggled to receive funding from angels or venture capitalists are now able to secure funding from this new source. Hardware companies in particular have had great success on crowdfunding websites with numerous success stories from around the world.

Eureeca has emerged as the leading crowdfunding platform for entrepreneurs in the Middle East and is now expanding globally. Eureeca has received approval from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority so it is now regulated under UK law.

To coincide with their Pitch Event on Wednesday, November 25th, Heather Henyon, Investment Director at Eureeca, wrote this excellent post on LinkedIn. It’s well worth a read as it really dives into how women entrepreneurs can benefit from crowdfunding.