Village Capital/MetLife Foundation Finance Forward MENA 2020 for Startups in Middle East and North Africa ($70,000 grant)

Village Capital/MetLife Foundation Finance Forward MENA 2020 for Startups in Middle East and North Africa ($70,000 grant)

Deadline: May 28, 2020

Applications are open for the Village Capital/MetLife Foundation Finance Forward MENA 2020. The program targets startups that are using tech to help low-income individuals and families manage their day-to-day finances, build short- and long-term savings and wealth.

They are encouraging applications from entrepreneurs building high-growth, scalable solutions focused on the following regional challenges:

  • Gender inequality: The World Bank reports that 1.2 billion adults have secured a bank account since 2011. Of the 380 million people living in the Middle East and North Africa, 52% of men and only 35% of women have an account with a financial institution or mobile money provider, resulting in the region having the world’s largest gender gap, and some of the world’s largest unbanked populations. Women’s labor force participation in the region is also the lowest in the world, negatively affecting women’s economic security.
  • Youth Unemployment: 60% of the population in MENA is under 25 years old, and the region suffers from the highest rate of youth unemployment in the world, meaning that by 2025, an additional 20 million jobs need to be created in order to stabilize youth unemployment. A lack of stable income-generating opportunities also make it difficult to build financial health, buy or rent a home, save, and build wealth – all of which are key enablers to economic mobility.
  • Access to finance for MSMEs: Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) account for 96% of registered companies and about half of employment in the region, yet only receive 7% of total bank lending – the lowest in the world. An International Monetary Fund report shows that there is considerable opportunity to increase SME access to finance in the region, and doing so will result in greater financial inclusion regionally.
  • Digital Identity: Displacement patterns in the MENA region have become increasingly more complex, with many populations having been uprooted and displaced over multiple borders. The per-capita refugee populations of Lebanon and Jordan have become three to six times greater than any other country in the world, and many people throughout the region are living without the basic identification needed for access to fundamental services.


  • Top two (2) peer selected startups will receive a MetLife Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Grant of $70,000 (USD);
  • Ability to network and receive mentorship from potential strategic partners, customers, and founders;
  • Ability to network and receive mentorship from MENA and Turkey-based investors;
  • Diverse and inclusive network of mentors and founders within financial health and fintech;
  • Startups will receive a stipend for one (1) founder/C-suite member to travel to selected emerging fintech cities in MENA and Turkey for workshops;
  • 10-12 days of interactive workshops tailored to help your company identify early milestones and prepare for your next round of capital (if relevant);
  • Access to an investment analyst who will coach you 1:1 on building a financial model, identifying unit economics, and on using financial metrics to drive both the business and investor diligence;
  • Participate in mock board meetings with representatives from financial institutions, corporates, fintechs, and investors that can help your organization scale;
  • Exposure on Village Capital’s program website and other communications collateral.


Eligible startups must have:

  • For-profit market-based solution that tackles a financial health challenge for low-to-moderate income communities in MENA or Turkey;
  • Operations in or have the ability to expand business to the MENA or Turkish market;
  • Have a minimum viable product (MVP), and raised less than $1M in equity;
  • Have at least one full-time founder based in the MENA or Turkey;
  • Have meaningful customer or business validation (not limited to revenue, can also be successful pilot studies, number of users, and/or strategic partnerships).


Click here to apply

For more information, visit Village Capital/MetLife Foundation Investment Readiness Program.