Earlier this year, we ran our very first Startups Lab in MENA, an initiative by the Google News Initiative (GNI) and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) focused on helping early-stage digital news organizations grow their businesses. In collaboration with MADRAJ, Samir Kassir Foundation and the Jordan Media Institute, sixteen startups were selected from ten countries in MENA, covering diverse news topics and formats.
The program was open to non-government owned news startups in the region seeking to develop the knowledge and skills to grow a digital news business, and to explore an opportunity to become more sustainable. We had a total of 170 applications out of which 16 were selected to join the program.
The cohort of news organizations came together over six months to tackle specific business problems, with support from Google, ICFJ and a wide array of industry experts. Participants received customized coaching related to their business goals, specific steps to advance their goals and the opportunity to learn from their peers who face similar business problems.
Nine participants out of the 16 participants, who joined the program, were selected to receive funding to support their projects.
- Akkazeh (Lebanon), a media project that aims to support persons living with disabilities by challenging stereotypes and advocating for their rights.
- HNews (Morocco), a news platform in Arabic that tells relevant stories, from the youth, to the youth.
- PalGraph - Lammet Sahafa (Palestine), an independent Palestinian platform, established by a local community of journalists, Lammet Sahafa.
- Last Story (Palestine), an independent Palestinian platform for responsible journalism, focusing on narrative storytelling to convey the reality of people's lives, and express their hopes through human stories, investigative reporting, and data journalism.
- Naqd (Lebanon), an independent media platform that produces multimedia content to cover current news and publishes social and cultural analyses in formats suitable for digital media.
- Neswan Voice (Yemen), the first media platform that focuses on women's news in Yemen, providing a space for Yemeni women to discuss their issues, share their concerns, and celebrate their achievements.
- Sawt Africa | Voice of Africa (Tunisia), the first specialized radio station in Tunisia dedicated to African affairs, serving as a cultural bridge connecting the North and South of the continent.
- Solarabic (UAE), an Arabic-based media platform that focuses on content related to sustainability, aiming to raise awareness and educate people about the region’s energy landscape.
- Middle East Voice (Iraq), an independent media platform that aims to raise awareness about cultural and societal topics in the region.
Congrats to all the participants.