Village Capital and DGGF conclude the MENA Ecosystem Builders Program

Village Capital, in partnerships with the Dutch Good Growth Fund – Financing local SMEs (DGGF), has successfully concluded the MENA Ecosystem Builders Program, addressing key challenges through collaboration across the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Drawing on the foundational insights of the “Unlocking the Pipeline MENA” report, the program’s aim was to bridge the support gap for early-stage ventures, providing critical technical assistance and fostering an investable deal flow, particularly for ventures often overlooked by traditional financing institutions.

Image: ©Village Capital

The initiative supported 12 locally-led Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESOs) from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia. These ESOs play a vital role in catalyzing societal, economic and environmental progress through innovative entrepreneurial ventures. Despite the regional growth in capital investment for high-growth ventures, a significant challenge remains in diversifying investments across a broader range of ventures and addressing systemic issues such as access to purpose-suited financial products, limited deal flow, overlooked entrepreneurs, and the need for improved support infrastructure.

The MENA Ecosystem Builders program facilitated intensive technical training and mentoring. The ultimate goal was to support ESOs in making strategic decisions for their own organisations to develop service and program offerings suited to delivering outcomes for ventures they support. Examples included strategic hires for their team, enhanced investment readiness programs, data-sharing platform development, and impact measurement investments.

These ESOs are critical to building an enabling environment that fosters the pipeline of scalable, high-growth potential ventures, contributing to job creation and improved livelihoods suited to local and regional needs. Yet, these supporters' need for institutional development and talent development is often overlooked in markets where they are instrumental in building ecosystems not just delivering services.

Key outcomes of the program include a stronger relationship between ESOs and financiers, improved access to capital for youth-led high-growth potential ventures, and the creation of a community of practice for continuous knowledge-sharing and collaboration. The summit in Amman, Jordan, marked a culmination of these efforts, connecting stakeholders from across the region and reinforcing the need for a MENA ecosystem enablers network.

This network, endorsed unanimously by the program’s participants, aims at collective advocacy, shared data on startups and donor programs, and collaborative problem-solving. It represents a significant step towards enhancing coordination and collaboration at national and regional levels, and supporting the distinct needs of various ventures types, from high-growth tech-based ventures to niche market innovations with significant growth potential.

The MENA Ecosystem Builders program, by equipping locally-led ESOs with the tools and resources necessary for development, is pivotal in shaping a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. These efforts are essential in addressing the SME financing gap, estimated at $123 billion, and unlocking the significant talent and innovation potential of entrepreneurs in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia. We seek to continue to drive systemic change, enhancing financial and technical support, and promoting inclusive growth, the program has set the stage for a future where entrepreneurs and ESOs can thrive contributing and shaping the prosperity and sustainability of the MENA entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem.

Learn more about participating Accelerators

Read the Unlocking the Pipeline MENA Report