Standard Chartered and Falak Investment Hub today announced the launch of the first cohort of the ‘SC Women in Tech’ program in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Applications for the program began on 28 November and will remain open for a period of around six weeks.
The 8-week program aims to support women-led start-ups in Saudi Arabia by providing women entrepreneurs at the heart of tech-focused entrepreneurship with opportunities for economic and social development, as well as funding. This is part of the bank’s global ‘Women in Tech’ initiative that is currently available in 6 other countries.
Earlier this year, the Kingdom announced over USD $6.4bn in future technologies and entrepreneurship investments. It is a key pillar of Vision 2030, which focuses on strengthening entrepreneurship by boosting private-sector investment, supporting innovation, and attracting and training talent. However, a recent WAMDA report highlighted that more can be done to support women-led business in the MENA region, with all-male start-up founding teams garnering 99 percent of the total USD$374 million investments raised in August 2022, with just one percent going to start-ups founded or co-founded by women.
Speaking about the initiative, Mazen Bunyan, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Saudi Arabia, said: “Increased diversification away from oil, demand for digitally led services and pro-business reforms are just some key drivers leading to increased entrepreneurial activity in Saudi Arabia. We are proud to collaborate with Falak Investment Hub and bring our ‘Women in Tech’ programme to the Kingdom. The spirit of diversity and entrepreneurship are important values that we celebrate at Standard Chartered, and we hope that by providing early-stage support and mentorship we can help women succeed and become leading job creators. We are confident that by working together with our strategic partners we will be able to unlock great potential, creating an enabling environment for aspiring entrepreneurs.”
Adwa Al Dakheel, Founder and CEO of Falak Investment Hub, said: “Women entrepreneurs in KSA have the potential to make a huge impact, and our goal with this program is to help them realize their vision, aligned with the country’s broader economic goals and Vision 2030. We are excited to create a platform that will enable these start-ups to access the resources and mentorship they need in order to reach their potential and establish the solid infrastructures for them to go global thereafter through our partnership with Standard Chartered. We strongly believe that initiatives such as this are key drivers of change for women entrepreneurs, female-led startups and the Saudi economy at large.”
Eligibility for Applicants
The program is sector agnostic, enabling any start-up headquartered in the Kingdom, technology-enabled, and led by a female, to participate. However, the business must have launched a minimum-viable-product that is not just at an idea stage.
Once all applications have been received, seven to ten start-ups will be shortlisted to join the 8-week program. During the programme, each start-up will be provided with opportunities to meet one-on-one with Falak teams, mentors and industry experts during workshops, events or private discussions. The start-ups will benefit from the guidance of entrepreneurs, technologists, as well as sophisticated investors, aimed at supporting their growth.
At the end of the program, all start-ups will be provided with the chance to pitch to over 40 angel investors, Venture Capital and family offices representatives through
(the 2nd established angel network in the Kingdom). Winners of this year’s cohort will receive up to USD $50,000 in total funding.