Womenpreneur Tour promotes women-led tech startups in Middle East and North Africa


Womenpreneur Tour promotes women-led tech startups in Middle East and North Africa

  • Visibility campaign showcases digital talents in Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan
  • Interviews, events explore challenges, aspirations of women entrepreneurs in region

Luxembourg, April 20, 2020 – The SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy and nonprofit Womenpreneur Initiative have completed a three-country exploration of female digital talents across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In a first-of-its-kind awareness campaign, the partners’ “Womenpreneur Tour” aimed to map and connect the region’s women leaders in tech as well as to discover the challenges they face and explore possible solutions to overcoming them.

From October to December 2019, the Womenpreneur Tour van traveled across Morocco, Tunisia, and Jordan to interview women business leaders in technology and bring together bright minds to explore the state of the Arabic startup ecosystem. All in all, the Womenpreneur Tour conducted 43 interviews with startup founders, established business owners, representatives of the local financial industry, policymakers, and experts across the three countries. These one-on-one discussions were supplemented by an industry event in each country, in which financial system players met to identify ways to facilitate investment in women in the form of capital, resources, and advocacy.

The Womenpreneur Tour was also documented in a video now available online, along with a video outlining the results of the tour.

Ines Ebrecht, Chairperson of the SANAD Technical Assistance Facility which runs the Entrepreneurship Academy, said: “The Womenpreneur Tour aims to draw attention and funds to women-led tech enterprises. The focus on technology arose because labor markets are rapidly being transformed by robotics, artificial intelligence, and other digital advancements. And according to the World Economic Forum, the jobs under the greatest threat of automation and displacement are disproportionately held by women. By promoting women’s engagement with these rising industries, we want to not only advance gender equality in business, but also provide role models for future entrepreneurs.”

Womenpreneur Initiative CEO and founder Sana Afouaiz said: “We conducted this tour to understand what is needed and missing to foster female entrepreneurship, especially in science and technology. Women in the MENA region face both concrete and intangible barriers to starting a business – from access to funding, networks, and opportunities, to unfavorable policies and societal mindsets. By analyzing these challenges, we can identify the right interventions to overcome them. Only when women are given equal opportunities can we tap the power of half the population to contribute to innovation, growth and social stability.”

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About SANAD 

The SANAD Fund for MSME finances micro, small, and medium enterprises and low-income households in the Middle East and North Africa via qualified local lenders. SANAD thereby fosters economic development and job creation – including youth employment – agriculture, affordable housing, and innovations in finance and financial technologies. SANAD strives to meet these goals by providing debt and equity financing to its local partners. 

The SANAD Technical Assistance Facility (SANAD TAF) multiplies the fund’s impact and outreach through capacity-building with partner institutions, developing financial infrastructures according to the principles of responsible finance and conducting much required research and development. The SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy, an initiative of the SANAD TAF, encompasses a range of programs to support business owners throughout SANAD’s target region. By working together with local organizations that drive incubation and acceleration projects, the Entrepreneurship Academy provides entrepreneurs with guidance, resources, mentoring, networking opportunities, the chance to receive financial backing, and other means necessary to turn good ideas into successful enterprises.

An impact investment fund advised by Finance in Motion, SANAD’s investors include the KfW Development Bank, which initiated the fund; the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ); the European Union; Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO); OeEB, the Development Bank of Austria; Germany’s GLS Bank and GLS Treuhand; the Dutch development bank FMO; and Calvert Impact Capital. 

For more information on the SANAD Fund for MSME, please visit:  
For more information on Finance in Motion, please visit:  

About Womenpreneur Initiative

Womenpreneur Initiative is a Brussels-based organisation with a community of 10,000 across 20 countries. Its aim is to advance women’s place in entrepreneurial scene, technology, innovation and society. We meet our aim through a variety of innovative experiences, entrepreneurial activities, mentorship sessions, leadership programs, technology education, networking events and opportunities.  

Media contact – SANAD
Nikki Eggers
Senior Officer, Marketing & Communications
Phone: +49 (0)69 271 035-470