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Venture capital firms back female business founders in MENA

Berlin-based fertility and family planning platform Apryl, co-founded by Jenny Saft, secured €4.1 million in a funding round

Playfair Capital and Dubai-based Global Ventures have launched ‘Female Founder Office Hours’ across MENA – with 150 leading venture capital funds hosting virtual mentoring sessions for more than 400 women founders on November 10.

The eighth edition of Female Founder Office Hours since it was launched in the UK in 2019 is part of a long-term commitment to redress the gender imbalance in fundraising. 

Female entrepreneurs are notoriously underserved by the global investment community. 

Each founder meets four investors virtually for one hour to discuss their technology and business model, ask for advice, pitch for investment or find a mentor. 

The founders meet a mix of local and international investors to receive a diverse perspective on the business they are building and to broaden their network.

The event is being hosted by Playfair Capital, an early venture capital fund, with the support of Global Ventures, Tech Nation, Google for Startups and Words + Pixels. Other VC firms involved include Atomico, Balderton, Creandum, EQT Ventures, Firstminute, Localglobe, Northzone, Notion and Seedcamp. 

The previous seven editions saw a total of 5,230 individual mentoring sessions, with 1,307 founders and 200 investors taking part. 

To date, 32 percent of founders have gone on to raise over $300 million of funding after attending an event, with success stories including Apryl, Freyda, HIVED, Vira Health, Opply, Sixfold Bioscience and SymTerra. 

Chris Smith, Playfair Capital’s managing partner, said: “The underrepresentation of women founders in venture capital funding is a global problem. 

“We are, therefore, delighted to be expanding the initiative we started in the UK, back in 2019, to MENA. 

“This is a region full of incredible talent and promise. Yet, aside from a relatively small number of pioneers, it’s a region without the widespread support required for women who want to build globally significant companies.”

Sacha Haider, partner at Global Ventures, said: “Increasing the pipeline of female founders has been front of mind for regional capital allocators for several years now, so it is really exciting to see top VCs from the ecosystem collaborate for the first edition of Female Founders Office Hours in MENA. 

“While the ecosystem has made important strides in recent years, with 35 percent of tech entrepreneurs being female in MENA, there is still much work to be done.”