Thought leadership

  • How do I contribute stories to Wamda?

    Wamda welcomes contributions from stakeholders in the startup ecosystem. If there is a particular topic or subject matter you would like to write about, contact editor[at]wamda[dot]com with a short brief stating the arguments you wish to portray. Opinion pieces tend to be 800-1000 words.

  • How can my business get featured on Wamda?

    We publish news stories on investment rounds. If you have an upcoming announcement, send your press release to editor[at]wamda[dot]com.


  • Where can I see all events organized by Wamda?

    Wamda hosts regular events for various stakeholders of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Mena. Please check this page for all past and upcoming events hosted by Wamda.

  • How can I feature my event on Wamda’s calendar?

    Wamda curates events before listing them on the calendar. To reach out about featuring your event, please send agenda and other relevant details to team[at]wamda[dot]com.

  • How can I partner with Wamda for my upcoming event or programme?

    Wamda regularly partners with third party event organizers, support organizations and startup programmes offering value to startups across the Mena. To partner with Wamda for your event or programme, please contact team[at]wamda[dot]com.

Wamda X

  • Who we are looking for

    We are here to help co-found businesses from their earliest stages. Be it an idea or a revenue generating startup, we want to be a part of it. Successful businesses are often started by mature founders who have several years of work experience but do not conform to the status quo. That’s why we are looking for mature professionals who have a knack for solving market failures and those who embody leadership and efficient problem-solving qualities.

    The qualities that make a great entrepreneur are often present before they even start a business. The best businesses are founder-run, so Wamda X is looking to partner with these founders from the early days of starting up. We want to partner with hungry entrepreneurs, willing to take a leap of faith regardless of whether or not they make it through Wamda X.

  • What makes this programme unique

    • First money in

      Easing barriers to starting a business by reducing dependency on family and friends, often the first people founders go to for financing.

    • Continuing to finance successful businesses

      Businesses will have access to Wamda capital, negating the need to constantly fundraise externally.

    • Bespoke value creation

      Curriculum light, mentorship and networking heavy. The programme is about the relationships built with the Core Mentors, Wamda Buddies, peers, and the wider Wamda network.

    • No Strings Attached

      By structuring the investment as a grant, we’re alleviating the pains associated with equity, allowing fellows to focus on their businesses.

    • Access to Wamda Network

      Regardless of whether or not Fellows start a business, they will attain access to the Wamda portfolio, future events, and future cohorts. Fellows will be part of Wamda’s network for life.

    • Access to space & perks

      We will provide working space in Dubai as well as various software and support services at discounted rates for fellows.

  • How it works

    • Applications

      Applications are open for the second cohort

    • Screening

      We’ll be in touch to schedule a call

    • Meet

      Full day of interviews and exercises at Wamda X Dubai

    • Programme starts

      Meet your buddies and mentors on orientation day

  • General

    • When will the programme start?

      The inaugural batch will begin on March 3rd, 2019. We have not set a date for Batch 2 yet.

    • What happens at the programme?

      We believe that you know what is best for you. While we'll be here to guide you, this is a relatively hands-off programme that emphasises relationships over programming. That means what you do with your time and during your meetings with your Wamda Buddy, mentors, and peers is entirely up to you. Having said that, we will be conducting events regularly and providing you with plenty of workshops and educational seminars.

    • What am I expected to do at the programme?

      The ideal outcome involves building an initial team, as well as formulating and validating your business idea, so that by the end of the 4 months, you are able to launch your business and receive your first round of investment. Having said that, this is a fellowship programme. All fellows are part of the Wamda community for life, and not launching a business by the end of the programme is totally fine. You got in because we liked you as a person, and value you being in our network. If you go on to join another team, or join one of Wamda Capital's portfolio companies, or even go back to your previous job, that's also fine. That is why this is a grant-based and not equity-based programme.

    • What if I do not launch a business by the end of the programme?

      Not a problem at all. There are multiple options at that point. One option is to extend the grant on a monthly basis until you are ready to launch your business. Another option is for you to join one of the other fellows as they launch their startup. A third option involves joining one of Wamda Capital's growth stage companies. Finally, you may decide to go your own way and do something totally different.

    • What if I change my mind during the programme?

      We understand that the process of starting a business might seem more appealing than it actually is. We also understand how frustrating the early days can be. Perhaps you are not getting value out of the programme. We're OK with terminating the agreement at any point during the programme if either party is unsatisfied for any reason whatsoever - no strings attached.

    • Is this programme for me?

      The programme aims to capture a broad range of fellows. There is much debate in what makes for a "good" founder, and the characteristics attributed to successful entrepreneurs are diverse. We want Wamda X to include driven fellows, eager to disrupt the status quo, but also mature enough to know how to maneuver in the real world. If you feel like that describes you, and the market failure you are trying to solve can mean the opportunity you are working on is sizeable, please go ahead and apply!

    • Is this a startup accelerator programme?

      This is not a startup accelerator programme. We do not accelerate startups, nor do we have a curriculum. We invest in fellows and individuals. Startup accelerator programmes are good, but they often focus on the post-launch stage of the startup cycle, the point after which founders have built an early team, have put together a polished pitch deck, and maybe even have a product. Not that we're averse to including any of those in our programme but Wamda X is pre-idea, pre-business and far more interested in the individual than in the startup. We are different to accelerators in that we are a programme that focuses on businesses at an earlier stage than the typical accelerator.

    • What does the screening process entail?

      The process is designed to allow us to screen for the qualities we believe exist in good founders. The best founders we've invested in often come by referral, so if you know anyone we know or we've invested in, get them to refer you to the programme. It may feel more like a job interview, with questions that may not seem relevant to your business idea, but we are interested in getting to know you as a person. Founders are the single most critical factor that contribute to the success or failure of a startup, and therefore our screening process is centred on getting to know the fellows. Having said that, you may expect the following: 1) online application, 2) another round of online questions, 3) a quick phone/Skype interview, 4) an initial screening in-person interview in Dubai, 5) a full day of interviews and exercises where you'll be tested on your ability to work under stress while keeping your eye on the big picture. In all of these steps, we're assessing your problem solving skills as well as your propensity to keep your cool under stress.

    • How are fellows selected?

      Based on their ability to think critically about a problem and solve it in a smart manner, their ability to work under stress, their ability to work with their peers, and how driven they are to solve a market failure.

    • What stage should my business be at to apply?

      You can apply at any stage you like. You can have a vague idea of what you want to do, or at the point where you already have a product generating revenue.

    • Is there a deadline for applications?

      Applications for the inaugural batch are closed. You may still apply for Batch 2, but we have not set a start date for that yet.

  • Economics

    • What are the programme economics?

      You will receive $4k monthly for 4 months if you're applying as an individual, that comes to $16k in total. If you apply as a team, you will be receiving $6.25k monthly for a total of $25k. The agreement will be monthly renewable, so either party may terminate or extend the grant period. You will also receive about $9k worth of in-kind support, in the form of incubation space that you may use for 12 months, along with workshops and seminars that will be paid for by Wamda. The grant money will convert into 5% equity if you form a business within a 12 month duration of programme completion. We also have the right to invest $100k in your business in return for a 10% stake. An aditional 1% of the business will be distributed to the mentors of your batch to ensure they are aligned with us and incentivised to maximise their support. So, in total, we will receive 15% equity in return for a $125k investment (with a post-money valuation of $1m) along with an aditional 1% that will go towards the mentors from your batch.

    • Is Wamda taking too much equity?

      Not at all. Let us explain why: The startup stage is often the toughest, and founders often depend not on financing, but on a network of peers and mentors to help incentivise them to launch their startups. We also know the most successful businesses are often launched with a solid support network, often in the form of a founding team. Having said that, Wamda X is a co-launch programme. We want to partner with you from day 1, and are able to continue to financially support you as you grow. We will put you in touch with successful mentors who have gone through the startup process. Financially, the initial grant of $16k converts into 5% equity. That grant is matched with $9k of in-kind support which includes workspace, programming, etc... 5% for 25% means your business is being valued at $500k from the very first day! In addition, we're giving 1% to the mentors of each batch in order to ensure they are sufficiently incentivised to engage with fellows. The following $100k ticket is for 10% of the business so in reality, we are valuing the business at $1m from the day it launches. While seed round companies in the region often raise ~$500k at a $1.5m-$2.5m valuation, that is a round that usually comes at a later stage. Think of the $100k as a pre-seed investment, and the $25k grant and in-kind support as a family and friends round.

    • I do not like the terms, can I negotiate?

      It is highly unlikely that we'll accommodate alternative terms than the ones set out here. However if you believe your case should be treated differently, please feel free to make the argument for it. We'll consider different terms if, for example, you've already raised money, or are at a later stage than most other fellows, or perhaps you have some deep-tech patents registered that are critical to the business' success. If you are at the pre-revenue stage, we will most likely stick to the terms above.

    • Will Wamda help me secure financing for my business?

      Absolutely! We have a venture fund and can finance your business all the way through Series B if we maintain alignment and we like the traction you've achieved. We will also help you fundraise from the wider investor network in the MENA region and beyond at every stage of financing.

    • What happens with the grant if I apply as a 2-person team?

      If a 2-person team applies, you will receive a $25k grant as a team. This will not dilute you beyond 5%, in order not to discourage you from applying as a team.

  • Mentorship and network

    • What is a Wamda Buddy?

      A Wamda Buddy is someone you can count on during the programme for anything you may need. You may depend on your Buddy to bounce off ideas, or use them to open up the Wamda network. You can also think of the Buddy as a counselor in case you need any support. Your Wamda Buddy has likely seen many companies over the years, and will be able to help you get on your feet in the early days of your business. You and your Buddy must have chemistry, and we will not force you to work with a particular Buddy. This relationship must naturally occur, and while we will help facilitate this process, you need to find your own Buddy at Wamda.

    • What does the mentorship programme look like?

      Mentors are core to Wamda X. The programme would not exist without them. Much like the Wamda Buddy system, the relationship you build with your mentors will be organic and not unforced. You must naturally find the right mentors for you, and you must "sell" them your idea and vision much like you would any other supporter of the business. We encourage you to research our mentors before the programme, and even reach out to them if you like, so that when you meet them during orientation day, you have an idea of who you'd like to work with.

    • How will I be matched with mentors?

      We will facilitate introductions during orientation day and beyond, but the relationship must naturally make sense for both mentors and fellows. You must work on finding the right mentor for you. We will not match you with mentors.

    • How are mentors incentivized?

      Mentors will receive equity at the accelerator batch level. In addition to the 5% Wamda receives in exchange for the grant when you form a business, a pool of mentors will get 1% of each business from that batch. We also encourage fellows who successfully found a business to carve out 1%+ to distribute to mentors they really like, be they from the Wamda network or beyond.

    • Who will be mentoring me?

      Mentors at Wamda X are founders themselves, often still working at their scale-ups. You will find that most mentors have built startups that have achieved significant traction, in the form of millions of dollars in revenues and who have received multiple rounds of financing for their businesses. They know what it is like building a business in the region, and are going to be invaluable to your business.

  • Follow on

    • How can I increase my chances of receiving follow-on financing?

      Three primary ways: 1) show us that your idea is worthwhile, and that it is scalable and solves a major market failure. 2) Show us that you are capable of putting together an early team, with a diverse skill set. 3) prove that you are receptive to feedback and are able to work with our network and team

    • What if I want to raise more than $100k after 4 months?

      We encourage you to do so, and may even invest more than that ourselves! We can work with you to find the right amount of financing for that stage of your business.

  • Logistics

    • What if I'm not based in the UAE?

      You'll need to be in Dubai for the first 2 months at least in order for you to benefit from the programme.

    • Do I need to be there for the entirety of the programme?

      You'll need to be in Dubai for the first 2 months at least in order for you to benefit from the programme.

    • Do I need to be in Dubai for the in-person interviews?

      Yes. We need to get to know you, and you need to get to know us! If this poses a logistical problem, please reach out so that we can try and help find a solution. We cannot cover flights or accommodation at this stage.

    • Can you help get me a visa to the UAE?

      Sure, that is usually a straightforward process and we can help facilitate it.

    • What sort of a time commitment will the programme require?

      You are building a business, so you are expected to dedicate 100% of your time to it. That means you'll have to be free of all prior commitments as of the day the programme starts.

Wamda Capital

  • What is Wamda Capital’s geographic mandate?

    Our mandate covers the Middle East, North Africa, as well as Turkey and Sub-Saharan Africa. We look at markets where we can provide value beyond capital and see ourselves as a strategic partner to the companies we invest in. As of 2019, we are have invested in startups based in of Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kenya.

  • Does Wamda Capital focus on a specific stage?

    We are a multi-stage, sector agnostic VC fund with best-in-class investments in both seed and growth businesses. We typically focus on startups that are post-launch and have generated traction.

  • What criteria does a startup need to meet to pitch to Wamda Capital?

    We are committed to investing in transformational businesses operating in MENA, Turkey, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Although we enjoy learning about startups looking to expand into the MENA or GCC from foreign markets, we typically invest in companies that have launched from or already have operations in markets within our geographic mandate. In addition, we focus on startups that are typically post-launch and have generated traction.

  • How should you approach Wamda Capital for investment?

    The best way to reach out to the team is by reaching out via our Pitch to Wamda contact form, with the following: an introduction about your business, adequate information about the round you are raising, and information about the team. The Wamda Capital team goes through pitches on daily basis, however, it may take us some time to respond depending on volume.

  • What does Wamda Capital mean by tech-enabled?

    Tech enabled businesses are companies that leverage the innovation and efficiency that technology can provide to deliver product and services more efficiently or in such way that it disrupts existing sectors positively

Partner Programmes

  • Can Wamda support my business with digital transformation?

    The short answer is yes. With our network of entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and ecosystem enablers worldwide. Our digital transformation and innovation advisory services are customized to help you in growing your business in today’s digital world. We help you in setting your digital strategy, expanding your reach to new audiences, hiring digital experts and achieving your strategic business goals.

  • Can Wamda develop an innovation programme with my company?

    Wamda will work closely with you to develop a tailored innovation programme that allows you to partner with talented entrepreneurs and create a substantial shift in your businesses and areas of interest. We partner with corporates and organisations to deliver our modular programmes. The programmes are designed to expose our partners to innovative solutions and introduce them to startups effecting a positive impact in relevant fields.

  • How does Wamda approach research projects?

    We work hand in hand with our partners to create research reports that provide startups, businesses and government entities with a better understanding of the ever-changing entrepreneurial ecosystem. Our reports are inclusive, data-rich and are written by the ecosystem for the ecosystem.

    We believe that information should be available for everyone, so we create shareable information that is easy to navigate and built for today’s fast-moving businesses.

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