Google recruits 12 Mena start-ups to online accelerator

Companies will receive mentoring in areas such as machine learning, digital marketing, product design and user experience

Google has selected 12 start-ups from six countries, representing seven different sectors, to join the second cohort of its ‘Google for Start-ups Accelerator Middle East and North Africa’ programme.

The accelerator programme, which technology start-ups in the seed or series A stage of funding can apply for, will run virtually from this week until the end of September. Selected start-ups represent the automotive, agriculture, fitness, FinTech, real-estate, e-commerce and entertainment sectors.

The companies, five of which are women-led businesses, include UAE-based banking start-up Bankiom, Saudi Arabia’s peer-to-peer vehicle sharing platform Ejaro, Egypt’s fresh food supply company FreshSource, Jordan’s blockchain firm Mawsuah, Morocco’s marketplace for local products MyTindy and a Bahrain-based mobile platform for staff to share real-time data known as Sinc.

“The selected start-ups will receive mentorship in machine learning, cloud, digital marketing, product design, user experience, customer acquisition and leadership development … [they] will be connected with VCs [venture capitalists],” the Alphabet-owned company said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Google will offer workshops on design thinking [a problem-solving approach that involves a set of cognitive, strategic and practical processes] to all start-ups that have applied for the second cohort,” it added.

The start-ups will receive equity-free support, access to Google engineers and intensive mentoring from more than 20 teams. They will have access to Silicon Valley experts and top local mentors, public relations and media training, and will work in close partnership with Google for up to three months.

The companies were chosen based on various criteria such as the problem they are trying to solve, how they create value for users, their willingness to use machine learning to solve business challenges and their ability to successfully scale up in the long run, Google said.

The company announced the Google for Start-ups Accelerator Middle East and North Africa project in November last year as part of its ‘Grow Stronger with Google’ initiative.

The programme aims to accelerate the Mena region’s post-pandemic economic recovery by offering digital tools, training and financial grants to support local businesses and job seekers. Its first cohort included 10 start-ups from the region.

Last year, the company also unveiled its Market Finder tool in the region to help local businesses expand and acquire customers around the world.

Mena retailers can also list their products free of charge on the Google Shopping tab to help them connect with more customers, regardless of whether they advertise with Google or not.

Updated: July 29th 2021, 5:51 PM