Village Capital and MetLife Foundation selects 11 start-ups for MENA accelerator programme
Village Capital and MetLife Foundation selects eleven early-stage ventures operating in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) for the ‘Finance Forward: MENA 2019’ accelerator programme.
The programme will take place from 17 – 20 November in Amman, Jordan and two peer-selected finalists from this cohort will receive grant capital provided by MetLife Foundation totalling $50,000.
Finance Forward MENA 2019 is part of a multi-year global initiative led by founding partners MetLife Foundation, PayPal and Village Capital, supporting over 100 entrepreneurs with nine accelerators on four continents. Participating entrepreneurs are building tech-enabled solutions for region-specific challenges around financial health, economic mobility, and community resilience.
The programme received applications from entrepreneurs operating across the region, with selected companies coming from Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, the UAE and the US.
They are helping unbanked individuals gain access to formal financial services, creating digital identities for refugees and migrant workers, providing access to employment for youth and women, aiding small business owners to access affordable credit and offering opportunities for underserved people to earn, save and invest for the future.
The cohort was selected with guidance from the Finance Forward MENA advisory board, as well as local partners BeyondCapital and Endeavor.
The entrepreneurs in the programme will benefit from an award-winning curriculum focused on investment readiness. Based on the past results of Village Capital accelerator, Finance Forward alumni globally are expected to collectively raise $10 million in follow-on funding over the next five years. In addition, the entrepreneurs are being introduced to mentors who can help their businesses thrive from a regulatory and technical perspective.
Allie Burns, CEO at Village Capital says: “Finance Forward exists to put the focus on early stage financial technology ventures that are changing lives but may be sitting in investor blind spots.”
He adds that it is a tough stage for such ventures, particularly in the MENA regions, which is relatively overlooked by the early stage investment system.
“That’s why we are helping these entrepreneurs speak the same language as investors, while simultaneously bringing investors’ attention to these businesses, which offer some really excellent services that actively improve the financial health of users.”
Elena Butarova, head of Levant countries and managing director of MetLife Egypt says: “For the MetLife Foundation, Finance Forward is an opportunity to harness the energy and creativity of entrepreneurs with inclusive solutions for the over 140 million underbanked consumers residing in the region. It’s by supporting them that we will build better consumer financial health, more resilient communities, and create economic opportunity.”
Here are the eleven start-ups that are improving financial health in the MENA region, and have gained a place on the Finance Forward MENA 2019 programme:
- All Compliance Services (Washington, DC) is a platform that helps banks accept and service the world’s under-banked and unbanked population by providing customised risk management software bundles, manageable on a single platform.
- Bankey (Arlington, VA) is a blockchain-enabled digital wallet operating in MENA that provides unbanked individuals, refugees and migrants with access to financial services through a network of banked individuals and businesses known as “keys”.
- Ciwa (Rabat, Morocco) is a digital solution for securing and managing tontines, rotative savings and credit communities.
- Fundbot (Beirut, Lebanon) is a digital factoring solution providing SMEs access to bank credit for invoices in order to provide for working capital needs.
- Finllect (Dubai, UAE) is a personal finance app that enables the Gen Z to learn about and manage money easily.
- Hawayati (Washington, DC) is a digital identity for mobile populations that intends to drive financial inclusion, beginning in the Middle East with refugees and scaling to a worldwide presence serving mobile populations.
- Kader (Amman, Jordan) is an online recruitment platform targeted toward blue-collar and fast-moving jobs.
- Kaoun (Tunis, Tunisia) enables unbanked and underbanked individuals and businesses access to financial services through identification, payment and credit solutions.
- Merakido (Cairo, Egypt) is a gamified habit-building financial wellbeing application.
- Rumman (Amman, Jordan) is an automated micro-saving and investment application which allows people to invest for their future starting from as little as $1.
- Solfeh (Amman, Jordan) is a fintech micro-lending platform, providing same-day emergency cash advancements to salaried employees.