Wamda’s Exploring Trends and Challenges to Scale for Startups in MENA  

There is little research into the Middle East entrepreneurship ecosystem but what does exist can be very insightful and interesting. Our partner Wamda is the preeminent source of research and literature into the MENA entrepreneurship ecosystem and regularly releases new research.

Their most recent publication – Country Insights: Exploring Trends and Challenges to Scale for Startups in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the UAE – is an excellent read and we highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in this space. Based on a survey with close to 500 responses from entrepreneurs, it examines what issues and challenges entrepreneurs have while they try to scale their business.

There were a lot of interesting insights and data points but of particular interest to the WOMENA team were:

  • 28% of UAE startup founders are women, which was the best of the four countries studied
  • Only 11% of Lebanese startups and 23% of UAE startups have VC backing  
  • Over 30% of Jordan and Egypt startups have received angel investment
  • 35% of companies with a mentor have received angel investment compared to 13% who have not, with this difference particularly pronounced in the UAE and Jordan

This was just the tip of the iceberg for the data but we’d love to hear your thoughts. Why do you think Lebanese startups have less VC funding? How important do you think having a mentor is? Either comment here or shoot an email to [email protected] to share your thoughts.

The publication shows rapid developments happening across the region. While there were one or two developments a year in the four countries prior to 2012, the number of developments has exploded in the past two to three years. This can only be a good omen for entrepreneurship in the region. With 2016 fast approaching, we already can’t wait to see what happens next year!

PS. Thanks Wamda for adding WOMENA as a funding source!

Introducing Our Middle East Partners: N-Z  

Following on from our earlier blog post, below is the second post in introducing our partners in the Middle East.

Progress in Technology Middle East connects connecting entrepreneurs with Silicon Valley resources. PITME has developed an excellent network of partners in Silicon Valley to support Middle East based entrepreneurs

Startup MENA runs a series of networking events and workshops for startups across the Middle East, which can be found on our events calendar. Startup MENA has branches in Tunisia, Egypt and the GCC

TechWadi is the leading non-profit organisation dedicated to building bridges between Silicon Valley and the Middle East. Dr. Ossama Hassanein heads up TechWadi and is a big supporter of WOMENA. WOMENA is also an ecosystem partner of TechWadi

Turn8 is a partnership between DP World and i360 Accelerator and is a leading startup accelerator based in Dubai. Turn8 launched in 2012 and has accelerated some of the top startups in the region including our own portfolio company Melltoo

Venture Capital 4 Africa (also known as VC4Africa) is an online community of entrepreneurs and investors dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship in Africa. This should be your first port of call to learn more about the startup ecosystem in Africa

Wamda is a platform of programs and networks across the Middle East that aims to accelerate entrepreneurship ecosystems across the Middle East. With programmes like Mix’n’Mentor and their grassroots content, Wamda has supported the development of startups across the region

Weyakum is dedicated to empowering young Emiratis with critical work skills to further their professional development and is led by Ameera Amir

Women Empowered Through Business in the Middle East  

On February 26, Al Iktissad Wal Aamal Group and Al Hasnaa Magazine hosted the 7th New Arab Women Forum (NAWF) in Beirut, Lebanon. Themed “Empowerment through Entrepreneurship and Innovation,” the event focused on women entrepreneurs and how they can help foster economic growth and employment in the region.

The event brought together regional leaders to discuss such topics as challenges faced by women, personal experiences and advice, which proved to be an insightful and motivational discussion for attendees.

For us here at WOMENA, some of the biggest takeaways from this event were the following statistics  revealed by panelists:

  • 60% of Zoomal’s projects are started by women, because “in my opinion women have better communication skills and determination”- Abdalla Absi, Lebanon, Zoomal
  • 30% of startups founded by women have more than 50 employees, and 15% have less than 10 employees. – Rana Salhab, Lebanon, Deloitte.
  • 100 billion dollars in Saudi banks [are] owned by women – Rana Salhab, Deloitte
  • Around 1700 entrepreneurs applied to Oasis500 programs, an equal percentage of which were men and women. – Youssef Hamidaddin, CEO Oasis500 Jordan
  • 38% of women are researchers in science and tech in MENA, versus 30% in Europe. – Bettina Bastian, Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship, American University of Beirut

For more information about how you can contribute to economic growth and employment as a woman angel investor, please contact us and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep up-to-date with WOMENA!

Adapted from Wamda.