MENA Startups Win Grants At Middle East Financial Health Startups Forum in Dubai
The Middle East Financial Health Competition, an initiative of MetLife Foundation and Village Capital, has awarded three MENA-based fintech startups grants worth a total of US$50,000 for their solutions that support financial inclusion. Twelve startups, (selected from over 40 applications) participated in the two-day forum held on December 19 in Dubai, which is part of a larger program to support impactful fintech upstarts in Poland, Ukraine, Turkey and the UAE. In recognizing the winners, the competition looked for ventures whose products helped improve overall financial health of an economy, increase affordability and saving systems, and lowered barriers for SME’s in scaling business.
An industry expert jury panel, which included senior executives from MetLife and MetLife Foundation, selected Bridg -an app with patent-pending technology that enables secure Bluetooth payments without the use of the internet- for a $25,000 grant; Ennota, a project financial management tool for SME’s, was selected for a $15,000 grant; and One Clique Systems, a cloud-based HR system specifically tailored for SMEs in the MENA region, was offered a $10,000 grant.
With an objective to “uncover and drive more capital to early-stage fintech entrepreneurs, and [to] support an ecosystem for these fintech entrepreneurs to thrive,” the Forum provided participating teams with day-long training that included mentoring sessions with investors and local sector experts. While 17 MetLife employees in Dubai mentored the startups, the entrepreneurs were also introduced to Village Capital’s global investment-readiness curriculum that focuses on scaling business by raising capital.
“The Middle East should be part of any conversation about startups building a more inclusive financial sector,” Allie Burns, Managing Director, Village Capital, a VC firm backing ventures creating social impact, said in a statement. “We were thrilled to work with MetLife Foundation to bring together these entrepreneurs, introduce them to MetLife employees, and help them build their potential to scale.” Regional startups that participated in the Forum hailed from a wide range of financial services areas including alternative lending services, management platform for freelancers, machine learning-powered payment system, and digital real estate investment platforms, among others.