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About a month-and-a-half ago, 500 Startups and Misk Innovation teamed up to do something awesome for the startups in the Middle East and North Africa.

They combined their resources to launch the Misk 500 Startup flagship Silicon Valley seed accelerator program for the first time in the region.

The program, if you’re not familiar with it yet, spans four months and it addresses the various needs and growth prospects of startups in the pre-seed and seed stages. More specifically, the program helps participating startups to optimize their product-market fit and gear up for seed-stage venture capital funding.

The maiden edition of the program kicked off in style on Jan 27, 2019, with the first investor demo day scheduled on May 13.

The first cohort to have been selected for the program includes 19 innovative startups from six countries across MENA. Together, they account for 10 nationalities. The program is industry-agnostic and includes startups representing the FinTech, e-commerce, HealthTech, EdTech, AgTech, B2B, Developer Tools, HRTech, Security, Transportation, Travel/Hospitality and Social/Lifestyle, sectors.

Remarkably, 37 percent of these startups have at least one female founder, which clearly underscores the growing clout of female entrepreneurs in MENA’s thriving startup ecosystem.

Another important aspect that binds all these startups with a common thread is that they are all focused on solving acute problems faced by the common masses in the region.