#WhereisWOMENA? In Dublin for the AngelSummit Europe!  


AngelSummit.io brings together the region’s most notable angels, VCs, community leaders and corporate innovators for panels and workshops to discuss startup and angel investing from every perspective. Here at WOMENA, we love syndication and can never turn down an opportunity for a good exchange of knowledge and experience, which is why this year, WOMENA will be an official partner with AngelSummit Europe.  

Conference speakers will include superstar angels and startup gurus such as 500 Startups Dave McClure, EBAN’s Candace Johnson and Startup Grind’s Derek Anderson. We’ll be sending our own Elissa Freiha to speak on the second day of the conferenceat 11am on the topic of investing across borders. Elissa presented at last year’s AngelSummit in Madrid, and enjoyed it so much she jumped at the chance to participate again in 2016.

In Elissa’s words, here are some reasons why angels should take advantage of the opportunity to attend this AngelSummit. “Whilst the angel scene is the US is quite well promoted and documented, the European and Middle Eastern scenes are still developing and event like this is critical for knowledge sharing and cross ecosystem network building in a time when it is still very needed.”

To learn more about the Angel Summit Agenda, check out their website here. Last minute tickets can be snagged at this link (for a 50% discount, use the promo code WOMENA). Note: Tickets will not be sold at the door. Registration will close on Tuesday, June 7th at 2 pm IST.

To follow the chatter over twitter, catch us at Twitter: @womena_co or the official event: @StartupAngelsCo with the #AngelSummit hashtag. Also, follow our other upcoming travel adventures with hashtag #WhereisWOMENA. Who knows, we just might be at the city near you!

Introducing Taa’theer, WOMENA’s Social Impact Partner  


Taa’theer is an Arabic word meaning legacy. In this case, Taa’theer represents the UAE’s commitment to leave a legacy by increasing its sustainability and social impact.

As angel investors, sustainability and legacy are some of WOMENA’s core values. This is why WOMENA is proud to be partnering with Taa’theer — The Middle East Social Impact & CSR Forum on May 22nd – May 25th.

The event which has been running for the last 12 years, gathers corporates, government and NGOs across the GCC and the Middle East to network, create partnerships, learn best practices and exchange expertise. The Summit is now MENA’s must-attend meeting and grew to welcome over 250 participants in 2015.

WOMENA’s Co-founder, Elissa Freiha will be speaking at Taa’theer on the topic of Launching the Next Generation of Social Innovators and Entrepreneurs from Educational Academies, and addressing how educators and social investors can support the growing influx of ambitious fresh graduates and entrepreneurs into the workplace.

Although WOMENA is not an impact investor per say, we often invest in companies whose business models revolve around improving society. For example, our portfolio company, AlemHealth works to bring world-class healthcare to patients in developing countries. At the same time WOMENA’s educational programs empower women and increase the amount of startup capital available in MENA ecosystems, which directly increases employment and innovation in local communities.

We’re happy to see the recent shift in MENA businesses away from traditional philanthropy towards more sustainable and strategic social impact.

To join us in discussing all things sustainability and legacy-leaving, RSVP to attend Taa’theer here.


Numbers and Negotiations-WOMENA’s Angel Series Workshop Finance Edition  

On Saturday, April 23rd, entrepreneurs, investors and even finance professors gathered at our Ecosystem Partner The Cribb to explore the financial aspects of investing and fundraising. The workshop was part of our Angel Series, a curriculum which aims to give early investors and entrepreneurs the skills needed to successfully invest and work with angel investors.

First up we had WOMENA rockstar Elissa Freiha who gave a brief overview about who angel investors are and how WOMENA works with angel investors to provide fun and seamless investment opportunities and networks.

Next up was VC lawyer Shahram Safai from Afridi & Angell. His talk on term sheets gave everyone a solid understanding of which terms should be addressed and negotiated in a term sheet agreement or convertible note.

Finally, numbers ninja and WOMENA co-founder Chantalle used theory, quizzes and practical examples to demonstrate how to create and analyze financial projections, in order to understand underlying assumptions and evaluate a startup.

We enjoyed a full house at the event, with 30 attendees leaving the venue with new financial skills enabling them to make investments, and approach investors with greater confidence and increased knowledge.

We won! WOMENA Awarded at Business Vision Awards 2016  

On March 23rd, WOMENA was proud to stand alongside other business leaders and companies to receive the Business Vision Awards 2016. The event, organized by Finance ME, was organized to celebrate the achievements of MENA companies, and encourage excellence in business. In the words of Robin Amlôt, CEO of CPI Financial, “The companies awarded have shown remarkable initiative and spirit across a range of industry sectors, creating real value in both financial terms and for society at large. They offer great hope for the future economic prosperity of the region.”

This is the fifth award WOMENA has won in the last year, adding to accolades awarded by International Finance Magazine’s ‘Most Innovative Angel Investment Company’, Wealth and Finance International’s ‘Best HNW Female Investments’ and ‘Recognized Leader in Due Diligence’, as well as being awarded ‘Best SME Businesswomen of the Year’ by Arabian Business Startup.

This honor spurs us on to continue to offer the highest quality of services to our WOMENA angel investors and portfolio companies, and most of all continue to work towards a diverse and ever-expanding MENA ecosystem.



Jordan-the Middle East’s Axis of Innovation  

Amman is making waves in the IT industry
Photo credit: Trip.me

It’s no longer news that the Middle East has seen a surge in technology activity across the region. It’s almost important to remember though that the Middle East is not a homogeneous region (far from it!); technology innovation and adaption is taking place at different speeds and starting from different points across the region. So when we saw this piece in The Financial Times about the strengths and weakness of the Jordanian tech market, we were intrigued with its analysis at the country level, rather than the usual regional level.

As the author deftly notes, Jordan has carved out a niche “as a centre of IT, outsourcing and ‘Arabisation’, the translation and cultural adjustment of English-langauge media and web content.” That’s certainly something we see at WOMENA: over 10% of the companies we’ve looked at are currently based in Jordan with many more startups with Jordanian founders based out of Dubai or, on rare occasions, out of another MENA country. For a country of 6 million people in a region of 300 million plus people, that’s a phenomenal rate and attests to the level of entrepreneurship in Jordan.

Why have so many startups emerged from Jordan? There are multiple reasons and as the author alludes a well-educated population and supportive government are key among them. We think other key reasons are:
The network effects from Maktoob’s acquisition by Yahoo! (which we discussed here) and its hugely positive impact on Jordanian entrepreneurship
It’s geographic position right in the heart of the Middle East with good transport links
The lack of other opportunities in the country, as it has so few natural resources, push people to innovating on their own accord; its human resources are its most valuable and important resources

So what can Jordan do to make sure it remains a MENA tech hub? These are a few of our thoughts:
Make sure Jordan keeps on producing great startups for one! Jordan has built a reputation for impressive innovation and entrepreneurship and when the quality drops questions will begin to be asked
Increase investment in technology education from primary school all the way up to university
Break down the barriers for women to become entrepreneurs; there are some great female Jordanian entrepreneurs but they are outnumbered by men

What do you think? What can Jordan do to continue punching above its weight in MENA technology innovation?

Welcome Executive Women!  

Womena is happy to announce that we have a new ally in our journey to increase women’s opportunities and empowerment in the MENA region. Enter Executive Women, a magazine that serves as the perfect resource to women in business and female angel investors.

Executive Women provides a platform to highlight the achievements of inspiring women who are changing the face of business in the MENA region, including educators, humanitarian pioneers, media personalities, entrepreneurs, scientists and business leaders. In addition, Executive Women offers useful tips and coaching on business subjects such as leadership, management and career advice, as well as curated content on social events, fashion and culture. The website even offers a monthly personal development and wellness to do list.

The magazine was launched by the UAE chapter of the CEO Clubs Network Worldwide, one of the largest business networking clubs in the world. It’s accompanied by the CEO Clubs Business Women, a social club designed to provide MENA businesswomen with business opportunities, business development and support, as well as special women international delegations and networking events for ladies at all levels- from start-ups and sole traders through to director level.

Womena will be partnering with Executive Women throughout the coming year, so keep your eyes peeled for upcoming events!

To learn more about Executive Women, head over to their website or contact them directly here.

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WOMENA’s First Angel Series Workshop  

On February 20th, we hosted our first Angel Series workshop at our ecosystem partner in5. This is the first in an extended series of workshops designed to educate both entrepreneurs and investors on angel investment. The goal of the programme is to have participants finish with the skills and knowledge to start their investment or fundraising journey.

Our very own Chantalle kicked off proceedings with her talk “The Basics of Angel Investing” where she delved into the foundations of angels and angel investing. Ritesh Tilani, Managing Director of Innoventa, gave the talk “What makes a good startup” followed shortly by Shaheeda Abdul Kader, Strategy Advisor at iChanical and Investment Advisor, and her talk “Demystifying Due Diligence”.

We are phenomenally grateful to Ritesh and Shaheeda for giving such excellent talks and our ecosystem partner in5 for hosting us! You can find more photos on our Facebook page.

Details for the next Angel Series workshop will be released shortly. Stay tuned!

What resources are there for entrepreneurs in the Middle East?  

There has been an explosion in entrepreneurship in the Middle East in the last five years and this has corresponded with an increase in the number of organisations supporting entrepreneurship. These include incubators, coworking spaces, incubators and angel groups like WOMENA.

At WOMENA, we’ve been trying to track this growth to ensure that we know as much as possible going on in the region. To that end, we’ve created a document for Middle East-based entrepreneurs listing a variety of resources across the region. It’s very much a work in progress and there are still a lot of resources to add.

We wanted to get your thoughts though: is it useful? How can we make it more useful? What else should we include? Would you rather the resources are broken down by country than by type? We always love to hear from you so add a comment below or email us!

The road to parity: Understanding gender diversity in the UAE  

Gender equality is a hot topic with many reports, publications and news articles on the issue (and quite rightly so). The more conversations about this key issue in the public domain the better as it will lead to change. The conversations are now global and are taking place within the UAE and Middle East, which is a further promising sign.

It was timely then to see Naseba and the Ministry of the Economy jointly present “The road to parity: Understanding gender diversity in the UAE”. We highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in gender equality in the UAE as it’s an excellent read with some interesting insights into the progress women are making in the region. It follows the Global WIL Economic Forum that took place in Abu Dhabi on November 2nd and 3rd 2015 as part of the Women in Leadership Series. There numerous excellent discussions and panels for attendees to join and we look forward to attending 2016’s event.

The report shows that while there has been progress, there is still a lot of progress to be made. What struck us was the sometimes stark difference in the opinions between men and women on opportunities for women, particularly in regards to entrepreneurship and sitting on a board. While 74% of men thought women were given the same chance as men to become an entrepreneur, only 44% of women did. It shows to us at WOMENA there is a gap between men and women that needs to be bridged for full equality to take place.

There is a lot of interesting insights and analysis displayed in an easy to read format. We encourage you to read it and share your opinions in the comments below!