In 2016 we celebrated our 10-year anniversary as an organization, a milestone I am honored to celebrate with our community. Without your support, belief in our mission, and drive to help build bridges between the Silicon Valley and MENA region, TechWadi would not be standing here today. What started out as a simple business networking group to connect the Arab diaspora tech community in the Bay Area has evolved into a far reaching, community-driven organization aimed at bridging entrepreneurship between the MENA region and Silicon Valley through mentorship, relationship building, and training.
This year has been an unbelievable ride for us as an organization and team at TechWadi. Here in the US, we held several successful bespoke acceleration programs that have brought entrepreneurs as well as emergent startups from all around the MENA region. We hosted monthly webinars with speakers covering innovation, social entrepreneurship, corporate law and more. We hosted networking events that brought hundreds of our community members together in cities across the Bay Area and beyond, and we connected mentors and mentees to help build stronger professional connections and ties within the community. In addition, we hosted our largest Annual Forum to date on January 27 and January 28, 2017. Over the course of two days, we hosted nearly 700 attendees during our Gala Dinner and Conference, celebrated MENA and Silicon Valley champions during the first ever TechWadi Awards Ceremony, and heard from over 50 speakers spanning a number of different fields including FinTech, HealthTech, Public and Private Partnerships, FrontierTech and Social Entrepreneurship!
In the region, we embarked on several high-impact delegations of speakers, mentors and investors throughout countries in the Middle East and North Africa, from Morocco to Iraq, touching the lives of hundreds of entrepreneurs. We continue to partner with organizations on the ground in every part of the region, and work with the private and public sector on furthering entrepreneurship and developing the ecosystem at all levels.
But this is only a small portion of the impact we’ve had over the last 10 years. TechWadi has provided mentorship, training, and connections to almost 1000 entrepreneurs, provided accelerated coaching programs for over 100 companies, and facilitated more than $10 million in investments for startups. Much of the work we do is on a voluntary basis and as a non-profit; we rely on the generous support of our members, donors and volunteers to serve the community. A special thank you to anyone who has offered their time and resources to make this possible. TechWadi is your organization. As we embark on a new year, we want to engage with each of you as we work towards expanding our impact even further. With your partnership and support, I am even more excited to see what we as TechWadi are capable of accomplishing to serve the needs of the burgeoning entrepreneurial movement happening across the Arab world right in front of our eyes.
TechWadi is the leading non-profit organization building bridges between the Silicon Valley and the Middle East and North Africa region, to support the growth and rapid expansion of high-tech entrepreneurship. We are uniquely positioned to provide Silicon Valley innovation and expertise to our partners who hold the knowledge and reach of MENA’s leading entrepreneurs.
TechWadi is scaling the appetite, ability, and readiness of the region’s top high-tech entrepreneurs to establish a world-class, globally recognized startup ecosystem.
TechWadi brings together technology movers and shakers through conferences, networking events, workshops, mentorship, and acceleration programs. We work with leading regional and international organizations to empower high impact entrepreneurs and help build a sustainable infrastructure that facilitates the growth and success of the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
In September 2016, we held a two-week Sprint Acceleration program for the winners of the Injaz Competition. The goal was to help these 10 startups meet relevant mentors, companies, and investors to take them to the next level. In total, we conducted 14 workshops covering topics including:
Startups also had the chance to visit top Silicon Valley companies including, Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Uber, Pinterest, Airbnb, Visa, and Draper University
Most importantly, the program provided a day of facilitated mentoring sessions and introductions to investors that added value and connections the startups can take back to their home countries.
On September 10, TechWadi facilitated Mentorship Day at Google in partnership with MIT Enterprise Forum. In total, we had 28 startups and 40 entrepreneurs participate. World renowned 500 Startups pitch trainer Andrea Barrica of 500 Startups, conducted a valuable pitch training session for the entrepreneurs. During this session, startups revised and practiced how to present a one minute pitch. This day also provided the startups with prearranged mentor meeting. In total, we had over 25 confirmed mentors and industry leader experts participate.
During Investor Day held at Microsoft Reactor, a total 40 entrepreneurs spanning 28 startups participated in meetings with investors. The event was attended by over 20 investors and Venture Capital (VC) firms. The VC firms included: 500 Startups, Leap Ventures, Lumia Capital, Rising Tide Fund, Blackbox VC, Oak VC, MEVP, Amadeus Capital, Bay Angels, The Valley Fund, Malaz Capital, and Angel Investors. The keynote speech was given by Amr Awadallah, who is a successful entrepreneur and founder of Cloudera. Following the keynote, startups had one on one meetings with Silicon Valley investors who helped prepare founders on how to follow up with funding requests. At the end of Investor Day, about half the startups reported investors were interested in funding their companies.
In March 2016, interim Executive Director Rama Chakaki travelled to Lebanon, Algeria, Ramallah and Beitunia to offer her support to thriving entrepreneurs of the region. She facilitated workshops, conducted on-the-ground training, and engaged closely with each community. Here are some highlights from the March trip:
In June 2016, the U.S. State Department hosted the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) at Stanford University in Silicon Valley, the heart of U.S. entrepreneurship and investment. The GES kicked off o June 22nd and concluded on June 24th. The primary objective of GES was to showcase inspiring entrepreneurs from around the world and to foster opportunities for investment, partnership, and collaboration.
TechWadi partnered with the Dubai World Trade Center in organizing the 2016 GITEX conference. TechWadi was an active participant at GITEX, hosting sessions and facilitating mentorship roundtables for participating startups. Over 300 investors from top VCs in the TechWadi network were invited, exceeding the commitment to invite 50 investors from US and 30 from MENA.
In June 2016, members of the TechWadi board and executive team met with eight Middle East/North African Consul Generals at the UAE Consulate in Los Angeles.
TechWadi partnered with ANERA to transform the Centers of Excellence (CoE) at four TechWadi partnered with ANERA to transform the Centers of Excellence (CoE) at four universities in Palestine into bustling innovation community centers with collaborative working spaces, incubators for private sector companies, students learning-by-doing environment, and private-public collaboration.