UNDP-4YFN Women Innovators Programme in the Arab States

February 27, 2022

What is the WIP?

The Women Innovators Programme (WIP) is a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Arab States and Four Years From Now (4YFN), the start-up platform of the global mobile operators’ association, GSMA. WIP is a mentorship programme for women-led, digital, social impact-oriented start-ups in the Arab States. While innovative, women-led start-ups are becoming more common in the region, women face many barriers to entrepreneurship, such as lack of access to finance and discriminatory gender norms. Among the barriers is also a lack of business-relevant mentorship opportunities and social networks, which this programme seeks to address.

In its first round in 2021, WIP benefitted 21 start-ups from 12 countries (Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, State of Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). In 2022, in its second round, the programme is expanding to include more participants, and will provide valuable opportunities for networking between the two cohorts.

Who we're looking for

Applicants should fulfill the below criteria:

  • Women who are Founders, Co-Founders or in the Executive Board of the Start-up.
  • Startups that provide digital-based solutions including but not limited to: Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotics, Augmented & Virtual Reality, 3D & 4D Printing, Cloud Computing, Big Data, Blockchain, Drone Technology and Biometrics, E-Commerce.
  • Start-ups should be Early Stage but already in the market (beyond ideation): i.e. Product/service already deployed with early customers / Demonstrating market fit for your product / Proof of the sales dynamics that will support efficient growth /Ensuring the team is in place to execute · Start-up solutions that are contributing to one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Start-ups should be based in one of the following Arab States: Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, State of Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, & Yemen.
  • Participants who are committed to actively participating in the full mentorship programme.
  • Participants who are able to communicate effectively in English (given the international nature of the mentors).


Mentorship will take place virtually over a period of approximately 2 months, with one-two hours of mentorship per week (10 hours of mentorship in total). The programme will begin in May, with a high-level launch event and introductions between participants and mentors. A virtual demo day will be held at the end of the mentorship period, with presentations to international investors. The demo day is organised with the purpose of providing exposure to the start-ups, without any guarantee of funding.

Mentorship support will be available in the following areas, depending on the start-ups’ needs:

  • Business strategy

    Formulation and implementation of goals and objectives.

  • Marketing & communication

    Development and evaluation of communication and marketing strategies.

  • Fundraising

    Fundraising options and strategy, including crowdfunding.

  • Management & operations:

    Financial management, legal management, team management, business modeling, etc…

  • Pitching

    Creating and delivering a winning pitch for investment, partnerships or sales.

  • Technology

   Technical support related to the digital nature of the solutions.

How to Apply

The form should be filled in by a woman in a leadership position at the start-up (Founder, Co-Founder or in the Executive Board).

The application deadline is 21 March 2022. Shortlisted applicants may be contacted for a short interview.


For any questions, please contact Roxani Roushas (roxani.roushas@undp.org) and Mohamed Walid Jomni (mohamed.walid.jomni@undp.org).