Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in MENA: A Journey of Innovation and Impact

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A special message from our Executive Director Anita Ramachandran.

Dear friends,

I am thrilled to share with you the remarkable journey of innovation, empowerment, and change that has unfolded over the past six months through our Google.org Fellowship. At its heart is a shared vision to transform the entrepreneurial landscape, particularly for women who have long been underrepresented. As I’ve mentioned before, we've been working on a groundbreaking mobile app to revolutionize mentorship access for women entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

In MENA, where only 4% of total entrepreneurial activity is driven by women, female entrepreneurs face a daunting challenge. This stark disparity fueled our determination to take action. The Google.org Fellowship played a pivotal role in catalyzing this transformative journey. Nine Google.org Fellows, each bringing unique technical expertise and a shared passion for mentorship, provided pro bono support to the MicroMentor team to create an open-source mobile app democratizing mentorship access throughout the MENA region.

Our goal was clear: onboard 1,750 mentors and recruit 5,000 entrepreneurs, with a focus on women. These women are not just business owners but trailblazers driving sustainability, climate smart actions, and positive change in their communities. Our mission was to bridge the social capital gap that has hindered underrepresented entrepreneurs for far too long.

Imagine this: As an aspiring entrepreneur, you open the MicroMentor app on your smartphone and find a professional industry mentor with a few taps. You can engage in meaningful conversation, seek advice, and schedule meetings conveniently, making mentorship an integral part of your busy life and easily accessible anytime, anywhere. It's a tool that fosters connection, fuels inspiration, and simplifies the often complex entrepreneurship journey by making mentoringship accessible and practical. Entrepreneurs can confidently pursue their dreams, knowing experienced mentors are accessible at their fingertips.

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One of our nine Google.org Fellows, Paris, recently reflected on her journey with us – a journey filled with many milestones, lessons learned, and tangible achievements. Over the past six months, her and the team's dedication and expertise significantly shaped the app’s development. A notable milestone included the Fellowship kickoff event in Dubai that brought the team together with prospective users to chart the project's course and translate entrepreneur needs and mentorship offerings into a product vision. 

When asked about her motivation to contribute to this project, Paris drew from her experiences in education initiatives, recognizing mentorship as a catalyst for unlocking success. Paris's strong emphasis on the app's potential impact on underrepresented global entrepreneurs drove the team’s discussions and research. The team adhered to product principles dedicated to uplifting underrepresented entrepreneurs, tailoring the app to meet their needs. 

As her time as a Google.org Fellow comes to an end, Paris wants aspiring Fellows to recognize that every company has distinct contexts and cycles of learning. Stepping beyond your customary working environment can be invaluable, encouraging fresh perspectives and innovation. She also highlighted the exceptional teamwork and unwavering motivation within the MicroMentor team, guaranteeing the finest products for users. Paris's journey serves as an inspiring testament to the potential of technology and mentorship in supporting aspiring entrepreneurs across the globe.

The MicroMentor app goes beyond technological advancement – it represents a movement for change. And Google.org made this endeavor possible through their unwavering support. Our journey together is a testament to the incredible power of technology, partnerships, and shared values. We take immense pride in our accomplishments and eagerly anticipate the transformative impact on entrepreneurs, especially women, across MENA and beyond.

I, along with the entire MicroMentor team, extend heartfelt gratitude to the Google.org Fellows, whose expertise, passion, and dedication have been instrumental in shaping the future of mentorship. Their contributions have been invaluable, and this project would not have been possible without them. 

Even though we are wrapping up our Google.org Fellowship this month, we will continue our work on the MicroMentor app as we prepare for the launch in March 2024. And we won’t stop there, in the future you can expect more AI integration, enhanced file sharing, video and voice calls, advanced scheduling, and so much more.

We hope you’ll consider joining us at MicroMentor – together, we can support underrepresented entrepreneurs, uplift women, and create a thriving ecosystem of mentorship and innovation, bridging the gender gap and building a brighter, more inclusive future for all. For those interested in learning more about the app's progress or exploring partnership opportunities, contact us at partnerships@micromentor.org.

Here’s a sneak peek of our project and stay tuned for what’s to come next!

Anita Ramachandran
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