We are very pleased to announce that 11 entrepreneurs from the 2022 round of the Women Innovators Programme (WIP) will be joining 4YFN 2023. WIP, which is implemented in partnership between 4YFN and the UNDP, supports women in digital in the Arab States. Below we tell you more about the programme and the activities planned at the event.
Joining forces to drive the social impact agenda
In 2021, in partnership with UNDP (the United Nations Development Programme), we launched the “Women Innovators Programme In the Arab Region” – a mentorship programme for women entrepreneurs in the Arab States working to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 4YFN and UNDP joined forces again in 2022, and in its first two rounds the programme has provided more than 500 hours of one-to-one mentorship to 50 women from 16 countries. Participating start-ups offer digital-based solutions in areas including education, health, finance, cultural heritage, agriculture, disability inclusion, and more.
The programme’s mentors, selected by 4YFN, are experienced entrepreneurs who advise on business practices including planning, pricing, growth, recruitment, marketing, and more. Mentors came from companies like Telefonica, Typeform, Loom, Huawei, and AWS, and investment firms like Zubi Capital, Mundi Ventures and WBAF. International platforms such as Tech2Impact and Startup Grind have also supported the programme.
Demo-day pitching: the programme’s culminating moment
The Women Innovators Programme ends with an annual Demo Day event at which entrepreneurs have the opportunity to pitch to a panel of international investors. They receive valuable feedback and connections.
John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA Ltd and Dr. Khalida Bouzar, Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for the Arab States, opened the 2022 Demo Day by stressing the importance of promoting women’s entrepreneurship in the Arab States and bridging digital divides.
The investors were especially impressed by the quality of the projects presented and the tremendous potential of the founders:
“The biggest takeaway is to see the woman talent that is coming from the Arab region and having and being part of the platform to connect with such innovators” said Andy Lürling, Founding Partner at LUMO Labs. “It is always a great experience and a wonderful opportunity to participate in the Women Innovators Programme (WIP) that brings appreciable women-led innovations and innovators in the Arab States to the public and “industry” eyes. LUMO Labs, as an impact investment fund, shares the values and principles to support and nurture social impact-oriented start-ups and stretches its hand for mentorship and social networking opportunities, playing its part in the development of the venture ecosystem in the region.” he added.
“Thank you so much for bringing together such a nice and inspiring group of females founders and innovators, I’m thankful for being able to participe in the program” wrote us Luz Adell, Partner at Draper B1 She described the experience at the WIP demo-day as “Truly inspiring”.
Founders and mentors share their impressions
The programme matched founders with mentors based on skills, interests and experience. To help make the engagement more productive, the founders were asked to share the main challenges their businesses were facing at the time. The mentors then planned the mentoring around those challenges, aiming at exploring them further and discussing the different strategies to address them.
Rihab El Mouhtani, a founder from Morocco, recounts her experience as follows:
“The mentorship renewed my belief in the impact and fulfilment that I’ve always strived for and pushed me to give more and do better. Through the programme I learned that the right time is NOW, and that developing a scaling mindset is the key to expanding any business.” Rihab is the founder of EZAR Academy, which aims to reinvent education through technology.
For Raghda Mousa, from Egypt, mentorship was an important complement to more traditional entrepreneurship training:
“I founded HealNOSTIC because of the unacceptably high levels of error in how medication is prescribed, dispensed, and administered. HealNOSTIC’s digital platform builds health education and awareness grounded in the latest scientific knowledge through our expert team.
No matter an entrepreneur’s academic knowledge & experience, setting up a startup is a marathon. It’s vital to have guidance along this journey – somebody to help you stay on track with your goal. Through my participation in the WIP, I learned a lot about pursuing my passion and setting my own values and priorities for what success means to me and my start-up.”
Meet the Women Innovators Programme at 4YFN 2023!
With the support of UNDP’s Country Offices, 11 of the innovators who took part in the programme in 2022 will be in Barcelona for MWC/4YFN 2023. The innovators will be accompanied by UNDP teams in the Arab region who are supporting entrepreneurship and digital transformation programmes.
We are beyond excited to welcome in-person these inspiring innovators and are humbled to be part of their journey to making the world a better place:
- Arwa Hassan, Sayid Nafsak
- Doreen Toutikian, omgyno
- Haya Nabulsi, Damazzle
- Kaouther Mokrane, EAT CLEAN
- Malak Yacout, The Volunteer Circle
- Najla Almissalati, She Codes
- Nesrine Rekia Ziad, Soolvit
- Nessma Youssef, Dammg
- Rihab El Mouhtani, EZAR Academy
- Safia Mohamed, Mango Gate
- Yara Ghouth, Naseej Market
Do not miss out on the chance to meet them and the UNDP delegation! We specifically recommend the following sessions at Hall 8.1:
- Tuesday, February 28th at 13:15h (Discovery Area – Earth Room): Advancing Inclusive Entrepreneurship: Experiences from the Arab States LINK
- Tuesday, February 28th at 15h30h (Discovery Area – Private Networking Area): UNDPx4YFN Women Innovators Programme Meetup with WIP22 mentors, mentees, UNDP staff and other stakeholders. LINK.
- Thursday, March 2nd at 11:15h (Pitching Stage): Pitching Session: UNDPx4YFN Women Innovators Programme in the Arab States. LINK.
What’s next for the Women Innovators Programme?
We are happy to confirm that a third edition of the Women Innovators Programme is in the making!
UNDP Offices in the Arab region are preparing to launch the outreach activities to eligible entrepreneurs, while on the 4YFN side we are getting busy selecting the mentors to support the programme in 2023. Would you like to join the 2023 edition as mentor? apply here by April 15th.