The U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI)is pleased to announce an open competition for projects that support entrepreneurship and enterprises that create positive economic and social outcomes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), particularly activities designed to increase entrepreneurs? access to capital and business networks and facilitate women?s entrepreneurship. This will be a two-stage competitive process. In this stage interested applicants will submit a concept paper for MEPI?s initial review. In stage two, MEPI will invite successful applicants to submit a full application, based on its concept paper, for funding consideration. Applicants may submit up to two (total) concept papers. If applicants submit two concept papers, at least one must be focused on a country in Category A (detailed below). Background: Entrepreneurship is a key driver of job creation and workforce diversification, as well as a promising avenue for creating small-and-medium sized enterprises and revitalizing MENA economies. Entrepreneurship can also apply business-like efficiency, innovation, and sustainability to solve community problems. The development of a vibrant entrepreneurial environment in MENA countries will depend on the ability of aspiring entrepreneurs, both men and women, to identify and exploit unmet commercial opportunities, obtain the necessary financing to undertake and sustain these endeavors, and develop networks to support their activities. Submission Guidance: To apply for this announcement, applicants must demonstrate: ? familiarity with the economic and demographic challenges facing the country; ? capacity and expertise in fostering entrepreneurial development, specifically increasing access to capital and/or increasing access to business networks, including for women; and ? the ability to translate entrepreneurship into social gain. Further, applicants are strongly encouraged to: ? identify existing initiatives that support entrepreneurship (and that include a focus on social impact) and outline a plan to complement ongoing efforts in the region, such as by linking several programs or scaling up an existing initiative; ? create linkages among initiatives within national boundaries, creating national networks, including women?s business networks and mentoring, to assist entrepreneurs facing similar start-up and operational challenges; ? propose projects that address multiple stages of the entrepreneurship lifecycle, including providing access to capital, networks, business development/expansion, and other follow-on steps; ? identify specific challenges women face in a country at various stages of the business development cycle and ways to overcome them; ? partner with organizations, including civil society, in the region to support their capacity and sustainability; and, ? propose innovative strategies to monitor the projects and relay the impact and results. Illustrative activities that may be proposed include but are not limited to: ? leveraging existing accelerators or incubators to provide financial and networking services for entrepreneurs focusing on solving community problems, including those that are gender related; ? hosting workshops on financial literacy, cash flow management, record keeping, and business plan development; ? hosting workshops to address special concerns of women entrepreneurs; ? connecting entrepreneurs to potential investors; ? providing increased access to seed funding, microfinance, or the training of local angel investors and mentors; or ? increasing, expanding, or connecting business networks. Examples of activities and costs not covered include: ? academic or analytical research (if not necessary as part of a larger project); ? exchange programs with other countries or territories; ? one-time events, such as stand-alone conferences and one-off round tables; and ? projects of a commercial or profit-making nature. Each submission must propose a single-country project based on the parameters outlined below. Applicants may submit up to two concept papers in total. The first submission may focus on any of the countries in Category A or Category B; there will no advantage to your choice of country. If an applicant chooses to submit a second concept paper for consideration however, it must be focused on a country in Category A. Category A Countries: ? Algeria: Projects should include a focus on increasing access to networks for young entrepreneurs, targeting areas where it is most needed, including rural areas. Implementers should have on-the-ground experience and strong local partners that can demonstrate the ability to work successfully in the operating environment. ? Kuwait: Projects should include a focus on increasing access to networks, especially mentoring services for young entrepreneurs. Projects also should include modules on professionalism, conduct, and ethics in the workplace; management and leadership training; and strategic business planning. Additionally, any proposed project should include a practical training or internship component. ? Saudi Arabia: Projects should include a focus on increasing access to capital and increasing access to networks for all entrepreneurs, including women, particularly in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector. ? West Bank/Gaza: Projects should include a focus on the creation of a forum/exchange/hub or other centralized mechanism, perhaps housed online or at an academic or community institution, or, the support of an existing center, that could bring together existing resources, connect entrepreneurs to angel investors, highlight opportunities, and provide training on accessing capital and increasing networks for entrepreneurship. Activities should focus on non-ICT sectors. ? Yemen: Projects should help shape the future of the entrepreneurial operating space in Yemen by providing training and other resources to increase access to capital and increase access to networks for entrepreneurs. Projects should particularly focus on areas outside of Sana?a. Category B Countries: ? Egypt: Projects should include a focus on increasing access to networks and capital for entrepreneurs and enterprises in less developed regions, particularly in non-ICT sectors. Projects should include a mentoring component. ? Israel: Projects should include a focus on increasing access to capital, increasing networking, including mentorship programs, and/or increasing access to incubators for minority groups and disadvantaged communities in entrepreneurship. ? Jordan: Projects should include a focus on rural communities, specifically targeting female entrepreneurs and increasing their access to business support services, networks and capital. Projects should build on previous and ongoing efforts in this area. ? Lebanon: Projects should include a focus on rural communities, specifically targeting female entrepreneurs and increasing their access to business support services, networks and capital. Projects should build on previous and ongoing efforts in this area. ? Morocco: Projects should include a focus on young entrepreneurs and increasing their knowledge and skill-sets to be able to access ?smart? capital, particularly organizational skills, business plan development, and market analysis. Although training should be a focal point of the project, applicants must propose a project that includes multiple stages of the entrepreneurship lifecycle.