Middle East and North Africa Regional Innovation Hub

Scaling Water-Energy-Food Innovations in MENA

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is subject to many challenges including water scarcity, environmental degradation, unemployment, conflicts and increased migration. Tackling issues in the water-energy-food nexus is imperative to achieve political and social stability, gender equality and inclusion, food security, and sustainable development.

Although the region’s water-energy-food challenges are severe, they present an opportunity for local innovators to find solutions for the most pressing water and energy issues in food production and agriculture.

The MENA Regional Innovation Hub (MENA RIH) supports innovators that work in the region and produce more food while using less water and energy. Together with investors and partners, the MENA RIH works to scale mid-to-later stage enterprises that have an environmental and social impact in the water-energy-food nexus.

Through WE4F, innovators from the MENA region can now access the financial support, technical support, and investment matching necessary to make food production and farming more sustainable, productive, and bountiful. Supported projects must fulfill strict environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria, have positive effects on the environment, strive for gender equality and inclusion, and ensure secure access to food for all.

Where We Work

We currently work in nine countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The Regional Innovation Hub for MENA has its headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon. There are further country coordination offices in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Palestinian Territories and we have partners all across the region.

Innovators operating in the following countries are eligible to receive support from the WE4F MENA Hub:

Algeria               Morocco
Egypt                 West Bank/Gaza
Jordan               Tunisia
Iraq                     Sudan
Lebanon             Yemen

What We Offer

For Local Innovators and Entrepreneurs

Are you an innovator with a proven solution tackling water and/or energy issues in urban or rural food production? Do you want to scale your business from a few hundred to hundreds of thousand clients? We will help you to make your vision come true!

Once you have passed our selection process, you will get free technical support from the region’s most qualified water-energy-food business experts. Depending on your needs, we can further provide you with grants, soft loans or other direct financial support ranging from several 10,000 US$ to a few 100,000 US$. On top of that, we will link you with investors and investment opportunities that will make sure you can multiply your impact in the MENA region.

Please note that WE4F is NOT a startup program. Your solution needs to be proven and you need to have a running production, an existing customer base and recurring sales. If you are not there yet, check out the regional incubation and acceleration programs of Berytech and cewas Middle East that will get you there.

For more information on how you can profit from WE4F as an innovator and entrepreneur, subscribe to our newsletter or contact we4f@berytech.org.

For Investors

Are you looking for commercial or sub-commercial, impact-oriented investments in the water, energy and food sector in the MENA region, but you are having trouble finding viable candidates? Are potential investments in the region currently too risky for you? Contact us for more information on our growing portfolio of mid-to later stage water-energy-food enterprises and innovative financing mechanisms.  We can help you with de-risking investments by backing them up with grants, soft loans or other financial instruments at our hand. Furthermore, investors profit from our complimentary due diligence processes and substantial technical assistance we provide to our portfolio companies.

For further information on investment opportunities:

For Partners

The Regional Innovation Hub MENA for WE4F supports promising innovators with technical assistance, direct funding and investment matching. We are in an on-going dialogue with key institutional and financial players and we promote the potential of water-enegy-food innovations in tackling the region’s challenges through targeted communication, awareness raising and joint advocacy to create a more enabling environment.

If you are a government or private sector actor striving for the same goals, contact us to explore synergies and potential partnerships to support local water-energy-food innovators.

For more information, please contact we4f@berytech.org.

Who We Are

Our MENA RIH is a consortium of locally rooted organizations, with long histories of working with each other and countless partners towards a more sustainable Middle East and North Africa:

  • The consortium is led by Berytech, Lebanon’s leading entrepreneurship support organization that has supported more than 3800 innovative entrepreneurs since 2002 with a strong focus on agritech and cleantech innovations and expertise in fund management and funding social scalable enterprises and innovative enterprises.
  • Chemonics Egypt (CE), with offices in Egypt and projects across MENA, brings in strong expertise in energy, agriculture, water and has supported over 1,000 entrepreneurs at the idea stage and 100 growing businesses in the water-food-energy nexus since 1992. CE also supports large firms, governments and international organizations in the sectors of focus above.
  • cewas is the planet’s first dedicated organization specifically supporting water nexus entrepreneurs with an impact focus. Although operating on a global level, the Middle East is cewas’ most important regional program with long-term entrepreneurship and ecosystem development programs and local staff in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Palestine since 2013.
  • Finally, IWMI has global presence and a regional office in Egypt and brings in a longstanding expertise in policy, advocacy and research on the use of water in agriculture and other related water-energy-food nexus matters as well as ample of experience with smallholder farmers, social inclusion and resource sustainability.

The Team in the Middle East and North Africa

Nicolas Farhat

WE4F MENA RIH Manager, Berytech

As Regional Innovation Hub Manager, Nicolas is leading the RIH’s day-to-day management, as well as the various work streams and activities. He also ensures that WE4F’s objectives in the MENA are met, and that all stakeholders (including but not limited to innovators, partners, donors and investors) are well catered for. Before joining WE4F in 2020, he amassed an 11-year regional and multi-industry experience in Corporate Banking, Syndication lending, Project Finance non-recourse basis, and PPPs, including utility scale renewable energy projects, on top of ad-hoc missions related to nationwide high level strategic projects. Nicolas has worked on arranging and structuring specialized transactions of a $2billion aggregate value, interfaced with large and complex corporations, UHNWI individuals, Government officials, IFIs, DFIs, Tier 1 global legal counsels, technical and financial consultants, and environmental and social advisors.

Dr. Ahmed Huzzayin

Technical Assistance Specialist, Chemonics Egypt

Ahmed oversees technical assistance to our innovators at the MENA RIH. He is an assistant professor at the Electrical Power and Machines Department, Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University and an assistant professor (status only) at the Energy Systems Group, University of Toronto. Ahmed acquired his PhD from the University of Toronto in 2011 and worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the same institution till 2013. Ahmed is a co-founder in Cleantech Arabia and is currently the manager of the Eco-Industrial Unit which he co-founded within Chemonics Egypt Consultants (CEC). On a policy level, Ahmed worked on projects related to industrial energy efficiency and sustainability, energy planning, as well as environmental and social issues relevant to the energy industry.

Hannah Wuzel

Communication & Knowledge Management Specialist, cewas

As our Hub’s Communication & Knowledge Management Specialist, Hannah has dedicated her career to fostering innovation and the transfer of knowledge and skills to benefit people and the planet. She speaks six languages and holds a MSc degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science as well as a BA in International Liberal Studies with a focus on International Relations from Waseda University, Japan. In addition to several years of experience working in sustainable innovation, environmental consulting and social entrepreneurship, Hannah’s core expertise is in communications and business development. For the past years, she has been committed to supporting entrepreneurs all over the Middle East and North Africa.

Constantin Salameh

Investment Senior Advisor, Berytech

Constantin draws upon a 35-year track record in funding and transforming corporations and MSMEs across the world to provide the best investment readiness support to our innovator cohort. He was previously CEO of HP Financial Services in EMEA/Asia Pacific and CEO of various global investment groups. He joined Stanford’s SEED Program in 2015 and provides advisory services to social SMEs in East & West Africa. Constantin has invested in several high-potential and high-impact MSMEs in the EMEA region, while providing them with advisory services to scale effectively with a solid governance foundation. He sits on the board of more than 15 companies in the EMEA region. Constantin holds engineering degrees from King’s College London and MIT, and an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business with a focus on international finance.

Ireny Khella

Monitoring Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Specialist, IWMI

Ireny holds the lead responsibility for the Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning component of the WE4F MENA RIH. Ireny supports the RIH team by leading the development and implementation of the M&E system in line with the donor requirements. Ireny is a skilled Monitoring and Evaluation Expert with a demonstrated history of 12+ years’ experience on seven developmental projects with international organizations. She is experienced in designing Monitoring and Evaluation systems with Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Plans, data collection forms and indicators to measure performance against set goals and targets. Ireny is based in Egypt and she holds a master’s degree in Economics in International Development.

Michael Kropac

Capacity Development Specialist, cewas

As founder and Co-Director, Michael represents cewas in the MENA RIH consortium and contributes to the Hub’s capacity development activities. Throughout his 18+ years of work experience, Michael has been an innovator, knowledge producer, trainer, facilitator, and specialized water/food business development coach. Michael is a Geographer with minors in Business Administration and Transdisciplinary Environmental Sciences. At cewas, Michael has planned and conducted 100+ capacity development programs for practitioners, decision makers and innovators, including 19 year-long specialized capacity building programs and coaching of 200+ water, sanitation & waste entrepreneurs worldwide. He has co-designed and developed the largest knowledge platform in sustainable water and sanitation management worldwide (www.sswm.info).

Aline Bussmann

Partnerships Specialist, cewas

Aline is the Co-Director of cewas and in charge of developing partnerships for the MENA RIH and its innovator cohort. Aline is a water management specialist by education and a natural resource manager by practice, connecting agricultural, sanitation, waste and other environmental sectors with innovation, business development and impact financing. Establishing networks, projects and businesses is her passion and mission, which she utilizes for the MENA RIH as she has done to build the cewas Middle East regional branch. Aline has extensive water, environment, and business -related knowledge and network in the Middle East and East Africa, which she draws upon to coach and train sector-specific businesses and support developing respective markets.

Dr. Omniya el Baghdadi

Policy Advocacy; Entrepreneurship Promotion/Business Environment Advisor, Chemonics Egypt

Omniya has 11 years of experience as a sustainable development expert, which reflects in her role at the MENA RIH. Through her position at Chemonics Egypt she has worked on various projects assessing smallholder farmer needs, assessing cleantech start-ups and firms supporting ecosystems and assessment of investments (regional funds) focusing on agriculture, renewable energy, and sustainable irrigation. She also has experience in policy assessment within the cleantech sector as well as managing projects related to clean tech clusters and value chains assessment. Recently, she worked on projects funded by IFC and WFP, focusing on sustainable agriculture interaction with entrepreneurship. Dr. Baghdadi’s experience extends to gender inclusion in WE4F.

Dr. Noura Abdelwahab

Gender Specialist, IWMI

Noura is leading the integration of gender at MENA RIH operations. She is an experienced regional Gender consultant with more than 20 years of experience in conducting gender and market assessments and research in MENA region for International and regional organizations namely the World Bank, UNDP, ADB, IOM, ILO, WFP, ICARDA, FAO, and Center for Arab Women Research and Training (CAWTAR). Over the years, she has built strong relations with the different stakeholders and active market players in Egypt and the MENA region. Noura is an economics graduate from Cairo University and holds a master’s degree in Economics from Nottingham University and a PhD degree in Economics from Cairo University.

Irene Boghdadi

Technical Assistance Manager, Chemonics Egypt

Irene is the Head of Entrepreneurship and MSMEs in Chemonics Egypt since 2014 and supports technical assistance activities at the MENA RIH. For the last 11 years, she focused on the intersection of technical and business aspects of clean technologies. She worked on multiple studies including market analysis, policy, technology, value chain and clusters analysis and development in various recycling and renewable energy sub-sector. She co-established Egypt’s first incubation, acceleration and growth management programs in the clean technology markets and has advised over 100 startups and MSMEs working in the water-energy-food nexus from technical aspects to investment readiness. Irene holds a MSc Degree in Masters of Energy Systems Management from the University of San Francisco.

Mona Hamdi

Business and Market Analyst, Chemonics Egypt

Mona (PMP) has 17 years’ experience in Engineering and Business Management with a BSc. In Electrical Power Engineering from Cairo University in 2003. Her experience covers a wide range of aspects of power industry including contracting and consulting work. As the deputy manager of the Eco-Industrial department in Chemonics Egypt, she has worked on over 30 projects related to clean technologies with WE4F being an integral part of it. She has extended experience in data analysis to assess business performance as well as markets. She has worked on projects related to growth management of small growing businesses. She worked on smallholder farmers’ finance. Her experience extends to serving large industries in WE4F markets.

Tina Elboustany

Grants and Financial Control Specialist, Berytech

As Grants and Financial Control Specialist, Tina plays a key role in the design, development, and oversight of WE4F MENA’s grant management and TA procurement policies, procedures, and practices. She graduated from HEC School of Management in Paris with a master’s in management – finance emphasis. Tina previously worked as a regional finance manager and compliance officer for multinational pharmaceutical and medical devices companies covering countries in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and CIS regions. She handled both fiduciary roles and business partnerships roles. She also worked on a program for Economic Empowerment of Women funded by the World Bank.

Nour Azzi

Accountant, Berytech

Nour, the lead accountant at the MENA RIH, has 4+ years of experience in the business industry. Dedicated and detail oriented, Nour has spent 3 years at a food and beverage company in which she led the accounting department and handled client relationships on all levels along with the external auditors. Additionally, she added to her learning path costing, budgeting, and reporting. Nour got her start in the accounting industry as an administrative in several insurance companies. During this period, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Accounting and Audit) from Sagesse University. Nour continues to study for her CMA certificate to unlock higher knowledge.

Anthony Chedid

RIH Officer, Berytech

Anthony coordinates daily between all stakeholders within the MENA RIH as well as the innovator cohort. As part of Anthony’s role, he supports the Head of Grants and Controls in setting policies and procedures, as well as ensuring that they are followed. Additionally, he shadows the Investment team to prepare the innovators for investment readiness. During events Anthony takes care of logistical tasks. Since graduating, Anthony worked at a startup himself. He later moved to Flat6Labs and ArabNet where he was exposed to VCs, angel networks, founders, and many startups. Listening to innovators’ problems and helping them solve the issues at hand quickly became a passion of his.

Maisam Otoum

Jordan Country Coordinator, cewas

Maisam is the Jordan Coordinator for the MENA RIH and has vast experience in Water, Energy, and Climate Change programs with national and international NGOs. He is the first point of contact for our innovators and partners in Jordan. In his work, Maisam focus on green entrepreneurship, innovation in water and sanitation, and ecosystem development through partnerships and institutional collaboration. He is a passionate trainer and mentor for emerging entrepreneurs. Maisam holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering (Jordan University of Science and Technology) and MSc in geophysics (University of Houston).

Mostafa Osman Abdelfattah

Egypt Country Coordinator, Chemonics Egypt

Mostafa has more than 8 years of experience in business sustainability and progressive experience in value chain development, social entrepreneurship, and corporate social responsibility. Abdelfattah was the Public-Private Partnership Manager of Center of Excellence for Energy, funded by USAID and implemented by MIT 2018/2020. Previously, he was the Corporate Social Responsibility Advisor of USAID’s SEED Project. As well, he participated in other several projects funded by different international organizations and corporations like ILO, PwC and Alfanar Venture Philanthropy Organization.

Nashwan Dhahir

Iraq Country Coordinator, cewas

Nashwan is the Country Coordinator for the MENA RIH in Iraq. As a water resources engineer and sustainable sanitation and water management professional, Nashwan led WASH projects and institutional reform and development in the water sector with a focus on Iraqi context. He is the first point for our innovator cohort and partners in Iraq. Nashwan’s background enables him to conceptualize, design and facilitate capacity building and business development workshops and trainings for the actors in the field of sustainable sanitation, water and resources management in Iraq including entrepreneurs, startups, practitioners, and public stakeholders.

Mahmoud Sherif

Egypt Country Coordinator, Chemonics Egypt

Mostafa has more than 8 years of experience in business sustainability and progressive experience in value chain development, social entrepreneurship, and corporate social responsibility. Abdelfattah was the Public-Private Partnership Manager of Center of Excellence for Energy, funded by USAID and implemented by MIT 2018/2020. Previously, he was the Corporate Social Responsibility Advisor of USAID’s SEED Project. As well, he participated in other several projects funded by different international organizations and corporations like ILO, PwC and Alfanar Venture Philanthropy Organization.

Yehia Shawky

Egypt Country Coordinator, Chemonics Egypt

Yehia has a mix of business and technical expertise relevant to WE4F that allows him to support innovators on the ground in Morocco. He has a BSc in Biophysics (2009 Ain Shams University, Egypt) and MSc in Laser Physics (2017 Cairo University, Egypt) as well and MBA (2021 Swiss School of Management, Rome) with focus on Marketing and Entrepreneurship. He has extended experience in streamlining of businesses operations and business development. His experience covers market assessment and market analysis and growth advisory to SMEs. He has experience with working within various start-ups where he utilized knowledge and data to drive business growth and sharpen market positioning.

Rachelle Jasser

Grants and Financial Control Officer, Berytech

As Grants and Financial Control Officer, Rachelle supports the Head of Grants and Controls in the design, development, and oversight of WE4F MENA’s grant management and TA procurement policies, procedures, and practices. Additionally, she is the lead accountant at the MENA RIH, with 3+ years of experience in the business industry. She graduated from the Lebanese American University with a master’s in management – finance emphasis and received CertIFR certificate from the ACCA. Rachelle previously worked in an insurance company as a Financial Controller where she played a major role in maximizing revenue and mitigating credit risk.

Sarah Dekhel

Environmental Specialist, IWMI

Sarah is an Environmental Specialist with over 5 years of experience in water resources and environmental management in national and international organizations. She currently is part of the RIH’s team in both the ESG and MEL components and helps the innovators improve their environmental impact, on top of supporting in the monitoring, evaluation and learning component to ensure successful measurement of the progress achieved throughout the innovators’ journey. She has a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from Zewail University of Science and technology. Her experience involves providing optimized water treatment solutions in rural as well as urban areas and mapping of wastewater reuse models in the MENA region. She is a member of the IWRA-Water Security Bureau (International Water Resources Association) and she received first place award in FAO’s Land and Water Days hackathon for her work on floods early warning system in Yemen.

Suha Hallab

Lebanon & Yemen Country Coordinator, Berytech

Suha is our country coordinator for the MENA RIH in Lebanon and Yemen. 

Coming from the banking sector bringing in her 13 years of experience in managing a substantial credit portfolio of SMEs in Lebanon in sectors such as construction, wholesale and retail trade, real estate, agriculture, and F&B manufacturing, she is dedicated to the full support and development of the innovators accompanying them step by step on their we4f growth journey. 

Suha is a CMA and her expertise lies in lending decisions under the IFRS9 guidelines and BDL circulars, and pricing and structuring facilities according to client business requirements. Her background in banking combined with her exposure and work with SMEs allow her to play a strategic and advisory role with our innovators in Lebanon and Yemen.

Mounes Neamat

Iraq Country Coordinator, cewas

Mounes holds a BSc. in electrical engineering and is Microsoft certified database and data analyst. He has a further certification in risk management. He contributes 11 years of experience in various industries (FMCG, banking, economic growth, entrepreneurship, and USAID projects experience) and has broad expertise in adapting to changing market needs, engaging with entrepreneurs and SME’s for technical and financial services and advisory services, including supply chain, marketing, and product development.

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