Top 5 accelerators funding MENA-based startups

MAGNiTT's 2021 MENA Venture Investor Ranking Report found that accelerator activity declined in 2020, with ​accelerators accounting for 10%​ of all active investors in MENA across all countries (its five-year lowest level). This marked a ​29%​ drop from the year prior. 

With 2020 bringing a complete halt to in-person events and creating an unprecedented shift to online demo days and programs, the number of active accelerators trended down across all geographies in the region. 

Accelerators provide early-stage startups with various opportunities including mentorship, networking, financing, and helping to define and refine. Yet, providing such thorough support through online channels can be challenging. Pitching your business to potential investors in a virtual demo day can also be daunting. Whilst we have seen that it is possible to be done and done well, adapting to it may be difficult, and with connection issues and the lack of togetherness felt when physically in-person, it may take a significant period of time to perfect. 

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Despite this general slowdown of offline programs and accelerator activity declining to the lowest seen in half a decade, accelerated deals in 2020 still accounted for 31% of all transactions. Programs have not completely stopped and investments are still being made.

Meet the 5 accelerators who invested in the highest amount of MENA-based startups by the number of deals in 2020:

1. otf Wadi Accelerator

19 investments

Based in Oman, otf Wadi Accelerator is a Seed-stage fund and accelerator program, capitalized by the Oman Technology Fund. It primarily invests in startups classified as having some user traction and product/market fit validation, with an initial investment of $100K for a 10% stake. otf Wadi then selectively invests in follow-on rounds between $150K-400K at negotiable valuations. otf Wadi has invested in:

GalactechYallaParkingProgressive GenerationSnapGoal, and more. Check out all of otf Wadi's 2020 investments

2. Falak Startups

13 investments

The Egypt-based accelerator's ambition is to find and empower talented and ambitious early-stage startup founders, in order to help them thrive in the region’s rapidly changing entrepreneurship landscape. Its sector-agnostic program focuses on honing startups’ product-market fit, finetuning their business, operating and revenue models, growing their customer base, and raising follow-on investments. Falak Startups has invested in:

Doctor OnlineSubsBaseSTACKSLittle Blessings, and more. Check out all of Falak Startups 2020 investments.

3. Flat6Labs Cairo

12 investments

Launched in 2011 as the first Flat6Labs office in the MENA region, Flat6Labs Cairo supports and encourages entrepreneurs throughout the critical first steps of development. It fosters and invests in bright and passionate Egyptian entrepreneurs with cutting-edge ideas. Flat6Labs Cairo has invested in:

BrimoreInterAct LabsILLABosla, and more. Check out all of Flat6Labs Cairo's 2020 investments

4. Misk 500 MENA Accelerator

12 investments

In a collaboration between 500 Startups and Misk Innovation, Misk 500 is a semi-annual KSA-based accelerator program looking for early-stage tech-enabled startups. It accepts startups that have a working product with some traction in a variety of fields including, B2B, B2C, E-Commerce, Fintech, Edtech, and Healthech. The program selects 15-20 startups in every batch, with each startup receiving $50K from the 500 Falcons Fund. Misk 500 has invested in:

WuiltTammwelCovetiWeeDigitaSport, and more. Check out all of Misk 500's 2020 investments.

5. otf Techween

12 investments

Techween is a Pre-seed program also supported by the Oman Technology Fund, that enables entrepreneurial teams to transform solid ideas into commercially viable startups. Techween accepts one cohort of 10 startups, providing $50K funding in exchange for a 7% equity share. It provides an advisory-based program and does not take management participation. otf Techween has invested in:

Dakhter AppOctopusSwimble, PocketcarageAirGo, and more. Check out all of otf Techween's 2020 investments.

Following a year of adjustments, what do you think 2021 will bring for accelerator activity in the region? Connect with me to share your thoughts!

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