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!

Our Partnership with TechWadi  

Over the next few months, we will be highlighting some of our partnerships with excellent organisations dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship in the Middle East. Our first partner feature will be on TechWadi, a organisation on the other side of the world in Silicon Valley but a partner that has done so much for entrepreneurship in the Middle East. Chaired by Dr. Ossama Hassanein, Chairman of Rising Tide Fund, TechWadi is the Arab Diaspora network of Silicon Valley, bringing together the experts and leaders in Tech to help entrepreneurs in MENA thrive and grow in Silicon Valley.

TechWadi has built a network of strategic mentors, experts and investors from numerous backgrounds to support Middle East-based entrepreneurs. Assigned mentors coach entrepreneurs in business practices; counsel on business expansion opportunities; provide access to strategic partners, investors, or clients; and act as a sounding-board for new ideas and challenges. TechWadi is hoping to double their number of members in 2015, focusing on the untapped resource of GCC female angel investors, an area where WOMENA is supporting TechWadi.

TechWadi launched their Sprint Acceleration Program this year which is a 3 month acceleration program that targets tech companies in the Middle East looking for growth in the US. Coaches work with companies on setting milestones that they aim to achieve in the US and customize a program to help them achieve these milestones. As well as all the benefits that come with being in the global heart of entrepreneurship, TechWadi provides the startups with coaching, mentorship, positioning for fundraising and cloud services to the tune of $100,000.

The program aims at bringing 8-10 startups to Silicon Valley in 2015. It truly is an extraordinary opportunity for Middle East-based startups and WOMENA would certainly encourage any entrepreneurs to consider applying for this year’s program. You can access the application here.

We are thrilled to be partnered with TechWadi and are excited for future collaboration with them. If you’re interested in becoming involved with TechWadi, make sure you apply for membership or sponsorship! Our two co-founders – Chantalle Dumonceaux and Elissa Freiha – are both TechWadi members and can speak to the value of a TechWadi membership.