Women Innovators Programme will showcase their startup strength at 4YFN 2024

Women Innovators Programme will showcase their startup strength at 4YFN 2024

Among the world leaders, cutting-edge experts, and industry innovators joining us at 4YFN 2024 are 7 entrepreneurs from the 2023 cohort of the Women Innovators Programme (WIP). For the past three years through a partnership between 4YFN and the UNDP, WIP has provided support for women innovators and digital social entrepreneurs leading startups 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. In the years since, 4YFN and UNDP have joined forces to implement the programme to three cohorts and have provided more than 600 hours of one-to-one mentorship to 80 women from 16 countries. Participating start-ups offer digital-based solutions in areas including education, health and wellbeing, finance, cultural heritage, agriculture, disability inclusion, sustainability, and more.

The programme’s mentors, selected by 4YFN, are experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts who advise on business practices including planning, pricing, growth, recruitment, marketing, and more. Mentors came from companies like Telefonica, Agile Content, Cellnex Telecom, Nestle, Sanofi, Huawei and GSMA. International platforms such as Tech2Impact and Startup Grind have also supported the programme.

Demo-day pitching: the programme’s culminating moment

Each year, the Women Innovators Programme culminates with a virtual Demo Day event at which entrepreneurs have the opportunity to enjoy a general plenary with UNDP and GSMA representatives, one special panel with the mentor an mentee from different editions and have the opportunity to pitch to a panel of international investors. They receive valuable feedback and connections.

Lara Dewar, Chief Marketing Officer of GSMA; Jennifer Colville, Regional Team Lead and Kawtar Zerouali, Regional Innovation Advisor of UNDP opened the 2023 Demo Day by stressing the importance of promoting women’s entrepreneurship in the Arab States and bridging digital divides.

This edition featured a panel called “Empowering innovators for better future” in which

Jens Heitland, CEO, Succeed and WIP3 Mentor, shared his experience during the mentoring sessions given to the innovators and emphasized the importance of continuing to undertake business despite adversity, empowering these women to develop businesses in technology. For her part, Abeer Albashiti, Founder Larimar Tech and WIP2 Mentee, contributed her experience in participating in the previous edition of the program and emphasized the importance of continuing to participate in this program, with which many doors can be opened for women in the Arabian region towards the world. We are particularly proud of Abeer for having Larimar Tech selected as a 4YFN awards Top 50 startup for 2 consecutive years!

Demo Day 2023 had 5 panels made up of 14 international investors from different companies like Telefónica, 500 global, Lumo Labs, Adevinta Ventures, WBAF World Business Angels Forum, EBAN, Nero Ventures, Mundi Ventures, Zubi Capital and leaders of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and 32 women innovators, founders of the technological business from the Arab Region. The investors were especially impressed by the quality of the projects presented and the tremendous potential of the founders which are living in hostile realities.

Founders and mentors share their impressions

As part of the programme, founders are matched with mentors based on skills, interests, and experience. During mentorship sessions, founders share some of the main challenges their businesses are facing and mentors draw on their experiences to support founders in overcoming those challenges and discussing different strategies and tools to address them.

Thais María Glod Nuñez, CEO of INNOBOUND, recounts her experience as follows: “This is one of my favorite mentoring program, it is so human centered. The women are extraordinary and willing to make a differences in their locations. They are really grateful for the guidance provided and they implement immediately all the recommendations they receive. Personally it is a lifechanging experience where I learned and grew with each edition”.

“The WIP programme is unique in nature, and the uniqueness of the programme lies in how it brings the most relevant required expertise to startups (Mentees) while preserving the diversity of cultures and experiences, which is uniquely reflected in the performance of startups and their founders (ladies) and the mentors themselves”. Mohamed Zahran is the Cyber Security Business Partner of the e-finance, Business Analysis Consultant, mentor and coach.

For Peter Palan, from Czech Republic “I felt like I meaningfully contributed with my experience to a couple of female-led businesses which feels gratifying. And I also learned many interesting facts about a context of doing business in the middle-east. I feel it broadened my horizons”.

To Mona Itani, from Lebanon “I was happy to support women entrepreneurs in areas beyond my reach such as Libya, Yemen, and Palestine. It made me learn from them and feel that I am making an impact in the world”.

Please, meet all the Women Innovators Mentors here.

Meet the Women Innovators Programme at 4YFN 2024!

With the support of UNDP Country Offices, 7 of the innovators who took part in WIP3 in 2023 will be part of the Impact Programme in Barcelona for 4YFN/MWC 2024. The innovators will be accompanied by UNDP teams from the Arab states who lead entrepreneurship and digital transformation programmes.

We are beyond excited to welcome these inspiring innovators in-person and are humbled to be part of their journey to making the world a better place:

  • Amina Daoud (Hello Data)
  • Fatima Zohra (ZeroCash)
  • Maryum Yarub (Eco Life)
  • Sana Hawasly (Daraty)
  • Maysoun Al-Skaf (Ajyal Smart School)
  • Maria Ahmed Omer Bukeir (Kids Space)
  • Wafa'a Taha Ali Alariqi (Technology Society Magazine)

Meet all the Women Innovators here.

WIP2 Delegation at 4YFN23

Don’t miss out on the chance to meet them and the UNDP delegation! We specifically recommend the following sessions:

Tuesday 27/02

16:00-16:30 Sky Stage (Hall 8.0): “Positive disruption: innovation for the future society”, a panel with UNDP CDO Robert Op. View session here.

Wednesday 28/02

11:00-12:00 Pitching hub (Hall 8.0): “WIP pitching session” see the innovators pitch on stage to the audience and an investor committee.

Thursday 29/02

10:00-13:00 Earth stage (Hall 8.0) - Impact conference, including “Women Innovators: Navigating challenges, Driving social change, with UNDP Hasan Fallaha and WIP mentors Miguel Martin and Yoko Kojim. View session here.