Beirut, Lebanon; November 14, 2019: Village Capital and MetLife Foundation selected eleven early-stage ventures operating in MENA including Fundbot (Beirut, Lebanon) for the ‘Finance Forward: Middle East and North Africa (MENA) 2019 accelerator program.
The program will take place from November 17-20 in Amman and two peer-selected finalists from this cohort will receive grant capital provided by MetLife Foundation totalling USD $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 program 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 program will benefit from an award-winning curriculum focused on investment readiness. Based on the past results of Village Capital accelerator programs, Finance Forward alumni globally are expected to collectively raise USD $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 said: “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. It is a tough stage for such ventures, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, 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.”
“With the recent boom in fintech creation, it’s an exciting time to be supporting entrepreneurs,” said Elena Butarova, head of Levant countries and managing director of MetLife Egypt. “For 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 startups that are improving financial health in the MENA region, and have gained a place on the Finance Forward MENA 2019 program:
- All Compliance Services (Washington, DC) is a platform that helps banks accept and service the world’s under-banked and unbanked population by providing customized 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.
About Village Capital
Village Capital operates the most active financial health accelerator in the world, with 22 past accelerators and bootcamps that have supported more than 200 startups. We were recently named Best Fintech Accelerator by Finovate. Prior programs in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates identified and awarded funding to fintech entrepreneurs working on solutions ranging from digital financial management tools to digital payment apps.
About MetLife Foundation
At MetLife Foundation, we believe financial health belongs to everyone. We bring together bold solutions, deep financial expertise and meaningful grants to build financial health for people and communities that are underserved and aspire for more. We partner with organizations around the world to create financial health solutions and build stronger communities, engaging MetLife employee volunteers to help drive impact. MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife’s long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Since its founding through the end of 2018, MetLife Foundation provided $822 million in grants and $85 million in program-related investments to make a positive impact in the communities where MetLife operates. To date, our financial health work has reached 9.9 million low-income individuals in 42 countries. To learn more about MetLife Foundation, visit metlife.org.
PayPal has remained at the forefront of the digital payment revolution for more than 20 years. By leveraging technology to make financial services and commerce more convenient, affordable, and secure, the PayPal platform is empowering more than 286 million consumers and merchants in more than 200 markets to join and thrive in the global economy. For more information, visit paypal.com.