Leading venture capital firms launch women’s business mentorship

Launch of ‘Female Founder Office Hours’ across MENA – led by Playfair Capital and Global Ventures

  • Edition VIII will be the biggest event yet with over 400 female founders and 150 VCs from across the UK, Europe and MENA
  • More than £480 million was raised by companies that participated in one of the previous editions
  • 5,230 mentoring sessions for female founders held since October 2019 with Google support for Startups, Tech Nation and Words + Pixels

Playfair Capital and Global Ventures today announced the launch of ‘Female Founder’s Office Hours’ across MENA – with 150 of the world’s leading venture capital funds including: Atomico, Balderton, Creandum, EQT Ventures, Firstminute, Localglobe, Northzone, Notion and Seedcamp – hosting virtual mentoring sessions for over 400 female founders of across MENA, UK and Europe in 10º November 2022.

Launched in London in 2019, Female Founder Office Hours breaks down investment barriers for women entrepreneurs, notoriously underserved by the global investment community. Each founder virtually meets with four investors for an hour to discuss their technology and business model, seek advice, present investment proposals or find a mentor. Founders meet a mix of local and international investors to gain a diverse perspective on the business they are building and to expand their network.

The event is being hosted by Playfair Capital, with support from Dubai-based Global Ventures, Tech Nation, Google for Startups and Words + Pixels. The seven previous editions had a total of 5,230 individual mentoring sessions, with the participation of 1,307 founders and 200 investors. To date, 32% of founders have raised £280 million in funding after attending an event, with success stories including Apryl, Freyda, HIVED, Vira Health, Opply, Sixfold Bioscience and SymTerra.

The eighth edition is part of an ongoing, long-term commitment to redressing the gender imbalance in fundraising and includes expanding MENA to engage and support the next generation of female founders around the world.

Chris Smith, Managing Partner at Playfair Capital, commented:

“The underrepresentation of female founders in venture capital funding is a global problem. We are therefore delighted to expand the initiative we started in the UK in 2019 to MENA. This is a region full of incredible talent and promise. However, in addition to a relatively small number of pioneers, it is a region that lacks the broad support needed for women who want to build globally significant companies. This event allows us to connect these female founders at scale, wherever they are located in the region, with local and international investors to build new relationships, find new mentors and ultimately secure funding.”

Sacha Haider, Partner at Global Ventures, commented:

“Growing the pipeline of female founders has been a priority for regional capital allocators for several years, so it’s really exciting to see the ecosystem’s top VCs collaborate for the first edition of Female Founder Office Hours on MENA. While the ecosystem has made important strides in recent years, with 35% of tech businesses being founded by women entrepreneurs in MENA, there is still a lot of work to be done. Female Founder Office Hours aim to create access to capital and build an investor community for regional female founders. Diversity of leadership and thinking are important factors shaping the future of the MENA business landscape – female founders are a key part of this.”

Yasmin Almostehy, Executive Director of MEVCA, commented:

“We are seeing growing interest in female founders in the region, and the venture capital ecosystem is coming together on many fronts to launch initiatives that specifically target female founders. IFC research has shown that female founders in the MENA region receive less than 10% of all private equity and venture capital funding. And it’s time to address that with impact initiatives like this one. We are happy to support Playfair Capital, Global Ventures and the entire ecosystem contributing to redressing the gender gap in the region.”

Lauren Nicholson, Tech Nation, commented:

“Founders’ Network is once again proud to participate in the eighth edition of Female Founder Office Hours. It has been a privilege to help support more than 1,300 female founders over the past three years to attend the 5,230 one-on-one mentoring and pitch meetings that Female Founder Office Hours facilitated. We are proud to be a part of their initial journey and look forward to welcoming the 400+ female founders and female-led teams who will join us for the November issue and see where the event takes them.

The eighth edition is also a chance to celebrate the continued expansion of our Female Founder Office Hours initiative into new regions from Europe to the Middle East and North Africa and to give more female founders the opportunity to grow and scale their businesses by supporting them in your fundraising journey.”