TiE Dubai, the local chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs founded in Silicon Valley, opened applications for a $100,000 (Dh367,300) global pitch competition to female entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa.
The inaugural TiE Women competition, which is available to 61 local chapters across the globe if they choose to participate, will culminate in the Grand Finale Pitch that will take place at the TiE Global Summit in Dubai in December.
“We all recognise the challenges women face when accessing funding and financial support. By bringing together a global network of entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and a prize money pool of $100,000, we will provide a unique launch pad for the winners,” said Ziad Matar, president of the TiE Dubai chapter.
“We look forward to seeing healthy competition and rewarding exceptional women leaders.”
Only 14 per cent of the more than 1,400 start-up deals in the Mena region last year were with businesses founded by women, according to a 2019 report by event organiser Arabnet, in partnership with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development (Dubai SME).
Meanwhile, the largest gender gap in established business ownership is found in the Mena region at over 40 per cent, according to the 2018-19 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Women Entrepreneurship Report.
However, the highest rates of women’s entrepreneurial intentions were also reported in the region at 36.6 per cent.
“There is so much untapped potential in the Arab World and by empowering women to go into business and rewarding aspiring female leaders, we will ensure global economic gains and a competitive knowledge economy in line with UAE’s 2021 Vision,” Mr Matar said.
Online applications for the TiE Women competition for Mena women entrepreneurs are open from today until August 1.
Twenty finalists will be selected to take part in an online pitch on August 31.
Three businesses will then be shortlisted by a panel of independent jury members, including entrepreneurs, investors and corporate leaders.
They will receive personalised coaching and mentorship as part of a three-month, locally run accelerator programme.
One finalist will be selected to participate in the global competition to win the $100,000 equity-free prize money and investor support.
To be eligible for the competition, businesses must be led or co-led by a woman and be a registered company.
A female senior executive must also lead the pitch. Participating start-ups can apply for the early-stage or late-stage category and need to be established for a maximum of seven years.
Even in a time of Covid-19, the competition shows that "organisations are still actively supporting and investors and sponsors are still willing to support the right causes, and it's not all doom and gloom", Mr Matar told The National.