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5 Funding Opportunities for MENA Social Startups To Apply to This Spring

From the UNICEF Innovation fund to the Deloitte Accelerator for Social Innovation, we've gathered 5 opportunities to boost social impact this season.

From incubators solely focused on fashion startups in Cairo, to accelerators for female-led companies and the startups of the future in Dubai, the Middle Eastern investment scene is increasingly catering to entrepreneurial niches. Spring seems to be the season for social startups, with an array of incubators popping up to support and nurture business with social impact; so we've gathered 6 promising opportunities to apply to. 

1. Deloitte Accelerator for Social Innovation 

Deloitte Accelerator for Social Innovation (DASI) is a Deloitte Middle East Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability programme that aims to help address the region’s social challenges by empowering and supporting social startups to grow and scale their impact. DASI's components include a regional competition across 14 countries in the Middle East to select two winning innovative social startups that will receive customized Deloitte support packages of advisory services, mentorship, networking opportunities, and skills-development valued at over $100,000.

Aligned with Deloitte's Global WorldClass initiative, that aims to empower 50 million futures by 2030, DASI is all for gender equality and encourages social startups fully or partially owned by women to apply. You can Apply before April 15th, here.

2. StartEgypt 

Powered by the British Embassy, International Finance Cooperation, and Flat6Labs in November 2017, StartEgypt is designed for social startups and provides them with a six-month incubation programme. Kicking off with a training programme to turn ideas into market-ready businesses, as well as mentorship and coaching services that complement their stage of development, the initiative will conclude with an acceleration stage by Flat6Labs, with grants of up to $25,000 per company. 

StartEgypt is set to last for three years since its launch in November, benefiting 200 startups having tangible social impacts, such as energy or education, and providing them with EGP 450,000 in grants. You can Apply here.

3. UNICEF Innovation Fund

The Innovation Fund allows UNICEF to assess, fund, and grow startups that prove to have open-source solutions (be it hardware or software) that can impact the lives of the most vulnerable children and youth worldwide. Financial and technological support is available for companies that are using technology andt innovation to carry out their mission of improving a jeopardized child’s welfare.

The Fund finds these solutions clustered around $100 billion industries in frontier technology spaces, such as blockchain, UAVs, virtual and augmented reality, 3D printing, machine learning, quantum computing, genetic engineering, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, nano-satellites and human dynamics. The Fund has made 51 investments in 28 countries, with an eye to invest in 30 more start-ups in 2018. You can Apply here.

4. The Next Society 

A community of change-makers gathering development hubs from Europe and Mediterranean countries, has launched the call for applicants earlier in March for their Startup Booster Track, which offers tailored support for early-stage startups striving to make a social impact.

The new programme, running in Egypt and Algeria, will select talented entrepreneurs and innovative businesses in the ICT, Food, Environment, Energy, Health, and Social & Culture sectors, to help them go international and raise funds. The programme works through workshops and training sessions, immersion into foreign markets and incubation in European innovation hubs, as well as meetings with investors and long-term coaching by mentors.

The Next Society Network gathers a large network of over 300 startups, research and investment organisations, as well as 2,500 international SMEs and entrepreneurs from 30 countries. Their programme, which is co-funded by the EU, is part of a four-year action plan between 2017 and 2020. You can Apply before April 4th here.

5. Nahdet El-Mahroussa

With a special focus on early stage social enterprises and socially conscious startups, the NGO driven by social causes, Nahdet El Mahrousa, offers a nine-month project development program called Masr Ta3mal (Arabic for Egypt Works).

It’s funded by Egypt’s Social Fund for Development, the European Union, and the World Bank and includes peer-to-peer collaboration programs, mentorship, funding when money is available, and demo days. Over the past eight years in the Egyptian entrepreneurship market, Nahdet El-Mahrousa has supported more than 30 social enterprises from the education, employment, environment, self-expression, citizenship, civic engagement and public health sectors and that in turn have been impacting over 10,000 beneficiaries on a yearly basis. You can Apply here. 

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