Dubai-based investment group Womena announced on March 1 that it would launch an accelerator named Womentum focusing on female-led tech startups. The announcement was made at the launch event for its new media platform, Womedia.
The accelerator will have virtual mentorship and immersive sessions in Berlin and Dubai. Applications are set to open this month and the accelerator will start this summer.
“We want to stop hearing the excuse of accelerators that there isn’t enough of a female-led pipeline to feed in their cohort,” Womena founder Elissa Freiha said in a speech at the Womedia launch event.
The accelerator is linked to Womedia, which will mainly feature video interviews with influential women. Freiha noted in a statement that Womentum and its participants would be the subjects of a weekly web series, with the aim of showing people “the reality of the entrepreneurial life.”
This marks the company’s move to expand its platform from just a venture capital firm, similar to VC firm Wamda Capital that hosts startup and investment-related content on its own platform, Wamda.
In an October 2017 interview with Forbes Middle East, Wamda Captial’s managing partner Khaled Talhouni noted that merging the platform and fund—both of which aim to build up the startup ecosystem in different ways—would be a step towards the future of investing in the region.
Wometum, which bills itself as the first female-focused accelerator in the region, could target a neglected demographic—only 14% of startup founders in MENA are women according to a 2017 study by ArabNet and Dubai SME, lower than the 17% global average. Only 26% of female founders of MENA tech startups raised funding in 2016.
Whether or not Womentum can boost that number, it could be a step towards a more equitable startup ecosystem.