MANAMA: Standard Chartered Bank Bahrain has launched the ‘Women in Tech’ programme in partnership with the Supreme Council for Women (SCW) and Bahrain Fintech Bay that aims to support women-led startups and entrepreneurs.

The programme focuses on capacity building for women-owned enterprises, targets female-led entrepreneurial teams and provides them with training, mentorship and seed funding.

A total of 10 shortlisted startups will have the opportunity to go through an eight-week mentorship programme.

This will be followed by a final Demo Day Pitch that will be held in September 2020.

The launch event took place yesterday through a virtual Press conference and was attended by executives from the bank, the Supreme Council for Women, Bahrain Fintech Bay and members of the media.

“Through this programme, we are aiming to increase the number of women entrepreneurs that own businesses in Bahrain,” said Standard Chartered Bank Bahrain chief executive Abdulla Bukhowa.

“Our mentors are here to guide the startups, help them scale and equip them with skills that are necessary to thrive in today’s world. This is especially significant given the global pandemic, where women have the opportunity to bring their digital business creativity to life at a time when it’s greatly needed.”

In addition to mentorship and a world-class curriculum, Standard Chartered will provide total seed funding of $50,000 to the top five winners and Bahrain Fintech Bay will offer a three-month residency at its premises.

Commenting on the initiative, Bahrain Fintech Bay chief executive Khalid Danish said, “Innovation has never been more relevant than in the context of the current pandemic and the programme will focus on solutions that can harness technology and creativity to assist in health, community and business continuity. Together with our partners, we will support female-led startups and entrepreneurs through ideation challenges, incubation and mentorship, as well as continued support and funding for the finalists.”

Commending the programme, Ranya Al Jurf, director of the Gender Balance Centre at the Supreme Council for Women, said it supports women entrepreneurs in Bahrain and encourages innovation and creativity in new digital fields that have evolved with the extraordinary conditions of Covid-19.

According to her, women in Bahrain already account for 42pc for commercial registration owners, 48pc for virtual commercial registration owners, and 35pc of fintech businesses.

However, giving a wider regional perspective, Olga Arara Kimani, regional head of corporate affairs, brand and marketing for Standard Chartered in Africa and the Middle East, said: “The gender-based divide is still present across all industries. It has been reported that, financial investment received by female-led startups is 49.3pc lower than what is received by male-led startups. It is important that we connect financing to where it is needed most during these uncertain times, as well as, helping our communities in a sustainable way.”

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