Entrepreneurship Academy

The SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy, an initiative of the SANAD Technical Assistance Facility, encompasses a range of programs to support MSME and startups throughout SANAD’s target region. By working together with its partner institutions and local organisations that drive incubation and acceleration projects, the Entrepreneurship Academy provides entrepreneurs and their businesses with guidance, resources, mentoring, networking opportunities, the chance to receive financial backing, and other means necessary to turn good ideas into successful enterprises. In this way, the Entrepreneurship Academy and its partners help create an environment where entrepreneurs can thrive – ultimately supporting SANAD’s mission of promoting economic development and employment in the Middle East and North Africa.

Lebanon: Mentorship program for Lebanese and Syrian entrepreneurs

In 2020, the SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy once again teamed up with Mowgli Mentoring to boost the success of Syrian and Lebanese microentrepreneurs through an intensive nine-month mentorship program.

Following on the success of the pilot initiative conducted in Jordan in 2018, the partners’ second joint initiative moved to Lebanon to match 15 local business leaders with 15 Lebanese and Syrian microentrepreneurs. The participants were selected from the client base of Al Majmoua, a microfinance institution and longstanding partner of the SANAD Fund for MSME, and Ibdaa Lebanon, another Lebanese microfinance institution.
One-on-one mentoring was supplemented with group sessions for consultation and exchange, all with an eye to supporting the integration of refugees into their host community while fostering sustainable, income-generating business activities for both Syrian and Lebanese entrepreneurs alike.
The program persevered despite the challenges posed by the events of 2020; and in autumn, an online graduation ceremony was held for mentees and mentors alike. Watch the video online!

MENA region: free online course for small businesses

The Entrepreneurship Academy and Jordan’s Al Hussein Fund for Excellence are launching an online course to support entrepreneurs in the MENA region. Offered through the free-of-charge Edraak platform, the course is designed to help both startups and business owners learn the most important skills to start or run a micro, small, or medium enterprise.

Instructional videos use practical examples and case studies to help learners easily apply the lessons to their own needs. The five modules cover topics on starting a business, business basics, managing a business, growing a business and financing a business. Short reviews and a final exam help participants review and practice the skills they have learned.

Through the free online course, the partners aim to increase entrepreneurship skills and business knowledge among the region’s entrepreneurs – thus supporting the business success that drives economic growth and job creation.

The course is available here starting June 1, 2020.

Palestinian Territories: SPARK Entrepreneurship Bootcamp

As part of the program launched by the SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy together with local development organization SPARK, 20 student entrepreneurs in the Palestinian Territories participated in an intensive three-day “business bootcamp” to help them pitch their startup ideas to a panel of judges from industry and finance. The panel included representatives from three SANAD partner institutions: TNB Bank, Palestine for Development Foundation (PSDF), and Vitas Palestine.

The five winners, all women, have benefited from six months of intensive business training with experts in the field. The SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy financed the bootcamp, which represents the “Economic Empowerment” component of SPARK’s Dynamic Futures scholarship program. The project aims to foster links between the youth and financial sector and raise awareness of the importance and challenges of entrepreneurship for economic development.

Lebanon: Agrytech Acceleration

Agrytech, a program of the Lebanese Venture Capital Fund Berytech, is accelerating Lebanese startups in the agri-food industry with financial and business advice and skills.

After the first bootcamp phase, 14 of the 27 teams were selected for the second acceleration round. After that, the top nine teams were chosen to continue to the third and final phase of the accelerator: a six-month incubation program that included up to USD 22,000 in grants.

Under SANAD’s Entrepreneurship Academy, the young entrepreneurs received top-notch business advisory and mentoring to fine-tune their minimum viable product and absorb new expertise and technology. The program monitors the startups’ progress, and through one-on-one scale up sessions, is working to enhance their capacities for fundraising, operations, and client and investor relationships to gain traction and grow. For more information, please visit Agrytech’s website.

Tunisia: Microenterprise Training

Between March and December 2018, training sessions were offered exclusively to more than 260 clients, almost 50% women, of Advans Tunisie – a microfinance institution and equity investment of the SANAD Fund for MSME.

The trainings improved the participants’ credit worthiness and ability to use Advans Tunisie’s micro and very small enterprise loan products for their business development. The sessions also enabled them to meet other entrepreneurs and exchange ideas amongst each other, providing an environment to discuss the challenges faced by microenterprises in the region and how to best tackle them.  

Following a successful pilot, the program is now being rolled out across the country with a focus on rural areas. Check out the program flyer here.

Egypt: BDS Hubs Nilepreneurs

The Entrepreneurship Academy is supporting the roll-out of “Nilepreneurs,” a joint venture between the Central Bank of Egypt and Nile University, to establish a nation-wide presence and low-barrier infrastructure to foster the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Egypt. One of the main measures involves setting up Business Development Service (BDS) Hubs inside bank branches. Under SANAD’s Entrepreneurship Academy, the Egyptian Banking Institute and the Egyptian Financial Services Institute have developed specialized training modules that will enable selected bank employees to provide these non-financial advisory services to existing and potential clients of the banks in their new BDS Hubs. In early 2019, over 70 employees of 12 Egyptian banks participated in a successful pilot program, which is being rolled out throughout 2019. Check out the program flyer here.


Egypt: Acceleration Programs for Social Entrepreneurs

The SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy and the Hult Prize teamed up to design and implement Changelabs to provide social entrepreneurs with access to knowledge, tools, and seed funding. The first cohort of ten selected social entrepreneurs is currently receiving technical training and mentorship from experienced business development experts. BLOM Bank and FMO are providing USD 75,000 in seed funding through prizes for the top startups. The acceleration program ignites social innovation and entrepreneurship among students with the potential to deliver meaningful change while generating sustainable profits. View the program launch video here.

Jordan: Finance and Investment Advisory Services to SMEs

The  Jordanian Action for the Development of Enterprise (JADE) program is part of a broader E.U. private sector development effort in Jordan. Its objective is to support Jordanian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by organizing the provision of technical assistance to increase their capacity and productivity – and thus their success rates. The project makes business development services available through an innovative online platform to promote systemic change in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. SANAD’s Entrepreneurship Academy has contributed financial and investment advisory for over 50 SMEs, ranging from financial planning and reporting to modeling and valuations. The Academy has also facilitated connections to investor and financial institutions in the local market. Participating SMEs have attended a number of expositions to showcase their products and meet with potential suppliers with a view to expanding into exports.

Egypt: Cairo Fintech Accelerator

The fintech industry in Egypt is a burgeoning field of opportunity to support financial inclusion and bank the unbanked. Alongside project partners Pride Capital and Startupbootcamp Cairo, who selected 20 local startups to join the first Fintech Cairo after screening more than 75 applications, the SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy is now supporting 11 finalists through a six-month, full-time acceleration cycle. The accelerator delivers tailored business development and capacity building through various activities, ranging from mentoring to growth workshops, partner engagement, networking events, and peer support. The project prepared these fintechs for their pitches at Fintech Cairo’s first Demo Day in May 2019 and is continuing to help them execute their growth plans and gain traction through weekly customer acquisition and revenue generating cycles. Check out the Demo Day booklet here.