Six months after its conclusion, Village Capital’s MENA Ecosystem Builders program, in partnership with the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF), continues to generate significant impacts across the region. The program pioneered a locally-led approach and provided Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESOs) with evidence-based tools and resources to support early-stage ventures seeking to raise capital in the MENA region.

ESOs play a critical role in building a supportive environment for scalable, high-growth potential startups, generating employment opportunities, and enhancing livelihoods tailored to local and regional needs. These skilled intermediaries have deep local knowledge and integrated tools, which are essential in improving capital access in the region.

These ESOs operate in some of the hardest-to-serve yet highest-impact potential regions in the world. Yet, they also need support to build their own capacity and, in turn, contribute to the growth of their ecosystem and entrepreneurs. Such support includes strategic team hires, enhanced investment readiness programs, data-sharing platform development, and impact measurement investments.

Drawing on the foundational insights of the “Unlocking the Pipeline MENA” report, the MENA Ecosystem Builders program supported 12 locally-led ESOs from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia. These ESOs were empowered to make strategic decisions for their organizations, enabling them to refine their offerings and develop programs that effectively support startups in the region, as well as strengthen the ecosystem as a whole.

As a result of the program, ESOs were able to:

  • Build stronger relationships with financiers, enhancing trust and collaboration to improve access to capital.
  • Access tools and methodologies with proven strategies to enhance the investment readiness of the startups they support, providing resources to learn, adapt, and innovate to what works for their market and entrepreneurs.
  • Create a community of practice for continuous knowledge-sharing and collaboration.

The ESOs participating in the program also identified key investments they believe would be crucial to advance their growth and the broader ecosystem. These include:

  • Talent and Team Development: Enhancing their internal capabilities through targeted talent and team development investments, establishing robust project management structures, and improving internal operations to better support high-potential startups.
  • Impact Measurement: To accurately measure the impact of their programs and initiatives and improve effectiveness and accountability.
  • Revenue Diversification: Mitigating the risk of restricted funding by establishing investment arms, offering paid consulting services, and providing subscription-based tools.
  • Tailored Financial Support: Creating bespoke financial support and investment tools designed to meet the specific needs of early-stage startups, particularly those in high-potential but underserved sectors aligned with the sustainable development goals, to bridge the significant funding gaps and support sustainable growth.

The program culminated in a summit in Amman, Jordan, connecting stakeholders across the

region to reinforce the need for a MENA ecosystem enablers network. The network marks a significant step forward in enhancing collaboration at national and regional levels, collective advocacy, data sharing on startups and donor programs, and collaborative problem-solving to support diverse ventures, from high-growth startups to niche innovations.

Village Capital will host a webinar, Navigating the MENA Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, on May 30, 2024, at 9 AM GMT. The webinar will share additional insights and learning from the program, including practical knowledge for stakeholders across MENA and similar ecosystems.


About Village Capital

Village Capital is reinventing the system to back the entrepreneurs of the future. Known for its groundbreaking approaches to supporting founders who are building solutions to emergent social, economic, and environmental challenges, VilCap unlocks critical social and financial capital for early-stage companies to maximize business and impact growth.

Village Capital has operated in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) since 2018 running over 6 accelerator programs. VilCap has supported more than 70 locally-based startups working in data tech, financial health, greentech, and health equity sectors. Learn more at and follow @villagecapital.

About DGGF

The Dutch Good Growth Fund is a “fund of fund” investment initiative from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched in 2014 with the aim to improve financing for the “missing middle” – i.e. entrepreneurs who have outgrown microfinance but do not have access to conventional capital markets – in 70+ countries. The Seed Capital and Business Development (SC&BD) program was established to further the impact of the DGGF by providing Seed Capital, Technical Assistance, and Business Development Services to local financial service providers and entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs). In addition, the program incorporates a knowledge development and sharing component that supports research, tests assumptions, and shares insights on financing SMEs in developing countries and emerging markets - fostering industry-wide knowledge exchange.