New technologies keep emerging and disrupting businesses and industries all around the world. Although this is a global challenge, the drive for digitization takes on a specific complexity for SMEs in the MENA region. 

While the SMEs represent the largest economic drive in the MENA region (the MENA region’s economies are based on SMEs at 90 to 98%), financial support and access to credit pose a major obstacle to the operation and innovation of their businesses.

This hinders the chance for SMEs to finance important operations and access important information to develop further and grow.

Building on this framework, the Women in Business Network launched in 2021 the first Digital Transformation Accelerator for Women led SMEs in the MENA Region.

The Digital SME Accelerator is a personalized support program to enable Women led SMEs in the Mena region to accelerate their growth by leveraging digital transformation.

This comprehensive and personalized 3-month support program is designed for NON-Techies to meet the needs of dynamic and ambitious SMEs on their journey towards growth and modernisation.

In particular, it supports beneficiaries to achieve these goals:

Understand and gain know how about the main pillars of digital transformation

Implement a digital maturity assessment for your SME

Build a roadmap of change considering the pillars of digital transformation.

Identify the priority areas of growth and quickly take advantage of the growth levers identified

Receive guidance on how to implement the first steps to digitize the processes of your SME 

The program consists of 2 levels around following pillars:

Acceleration Level 1 (accessible for up to 25 participants).

  • Training: a tailor-made capacity building program, calibrated for SMEs, and built by world class digital transformation experts. Including One mandatory module (Introduction to Digital Transformation for SMEs) + 4 Tech Fundamentals modules of choice amongst a list of 5:
  1. Artificial Intelligence
  2. Mixed Reality: AR/VR and more and their use cases for the businesses
  3. Cloud Computing
  4. Internet of Things/Industry 4.0
  5. Intro to Data Science

Acceleration Level 2:

  • Online Sessions with guest speakers: Prepare Your Digital transformation. Including: Innovation for SMEs, Lean and Agility in operations, HR & Organization in the digital era, Fintech, Edtech, Agritech, Healthtec, Smart Factory, Best practice examples from Germany.
  • Access to a newly developed Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) system for SMEs including training for you and your staff members: Upon completion and based on their level of achievement, they will receive a program certificate.
  • High level digital maturity assessment for the best 3 companies participating in the accelerator.

Beneficiaries (women-led MENA SMEs) will receive the following benefits from this cooperation:

  • Support WiB members with going forward with digitizing their companies that might be critical for their survival.
  • Exploration of new business models for SMEs
  • Accelerate the recovery of the MENA SMEs from the COVID crisis and preparation of their positioning and role post crisis.

Selection criteria for the Digital SME Accelerator

The Digital SME Accelerator is a customized program for WiB network members with strong growth goals and ambitious COVID recovery plans and readiness to leverage the power of digital transformation for a new strategic positioning of their business.

SMEs meeting the criteria are identified and selected by the project Executive committee. Criteria:

  • women led, or women founded SME (for profit and SME only)
  • Part of the WiB community (Member of BWE21, CNCFCE, LLWB or SEVE)
  • Sector: any specific sector
  • Size: number of employeers (at least a team of 3)