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500 Startups, in collaboration with MiSK Innovation, launched a new early-stage accelerator program for startups in the MENA region. The flagship program will span 16 weeks, during which participants will learn growth hacking techniques and the essential ingredients to success in the Silicon Valley way.

More than 500 applicants from 15 countries applied to be a part of the program, of which only 21 were selected. Nearly one in three startups to have been shortlisted are led by female founders.

These 21 startups will now undergo an extensive series of training and mentorship sessions led by the best experts from 500 Startups.

Deemah Al Yahya, CEO at MiSK Innovation, says that the new joint initiative is optimized to spot promising young talent with the requisite skills and competence to lead an organization, thereby strengthening the future economy of the region.

“Many experts from Silicon Valley and the region will offer ongoing guidance to startups who are part of the accelerator. The program will provide advanced training in significant areas of growth and scalability, including marketing, communications and sales, customer service, data analysis, recruitment, finance and products, and system building,” Al Yahya added.

The primary objective of the joint venture between 500 Startups and MiSK is to make a lasting impact on the region’s economy by encouraging and promoting a startup culture driven by genuine innovations and sustainable business models.

Saying that the program has kicked off on the right foot, Sharif El-Badawi, Managing Partner of 500 Startups’ MENA fund, said: “We are extremely pleased with the quality of applicants we received for the inaugural cohort.”