The Humanitarian Accelerators

The Humanitarian Accelerators is a first of its kind initiative in the Arab World connecting start-ups and established companies from around the world with the UAE’s humanitarian sector to tackle social, cultural and environmental challenges in the Arab region.

Applications for our inaugural program, starting October 1st, are now open.

About Humanitarian Accelerators
The first Humanitarian Accelerators program is being hosted in partnership with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives foundation. It is taking place in parallel to the main Dubai Future Accelerators program from October 1st to November 29th.
Our inaugural program focuses on empowering refugees through education and employment opportunities. Solutions for water sanitation in developing countries and improving Arabic digital content will be addressed in the next program taking place early 2018. Read more about the challenges here.
Program benefits
Benefit partnerships blue
Game changing partnerships with
leading government partners
Benefit workspace blue
Business development opportunities
across the Middle East
Benefit mentors blue
Mentors and key introductions
within the humanitarian sector
Benefit travel blue
Paid accommodation in Dubai
Benefit zero equity blue
Zero equity in your business
Benefit lab blue
Dedicated creative workspace
and access to our prototyping lab
The application is open to start-ups and established companies from around the world that provide impactful solutions to the specified challenges.
  1. Read the challenges defined by our partner Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives
  2. Fill out the application form here.
  3. The shortlisted companies will get invited to a Skype-interview.
Application deadline
Participants selection

Program duration
The Humanitarian Accelerators in collaboration with Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives have issued 4 challenges tackling critical humanitarian issues in the Arab region. We are looking for companies that can help solve these challenges.

Education for Refugee Children

  • Empowering refugees through community integration using technology.

Job Opportunities for Refugees

  • Empowering refugees through employment opportunities in their host countries using technology.

Solutions for Water Sanitation

  • Developing technological solutions for water sanitation in developing countries.

  • Applying technologies that maintain access, transportation, and infrastructure of clean water to regions in need.

Arabic Digital Content

  • Increase readership in the region, amount of quality Arabic digital content, and access to publishing through use of technology.
If your organization does not provide a solution fitting the challenge of our program but would still like to contribute, please contact us via email

How does the Humanitarian Accelerators work?

Similar to the core Dubai Future Accelerators Program, the Humanitarian Accelerators is a unique opportunity for technology companies to gain unparalleled access to staff, resources and expertise of Dubai’s humanitarian sector, with our partner Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, as well as a host of NGOs, Development Organizations and Government Coordination Bodies in the UAE. The program will rapidly develop and deploy initiatives in line with the UAE Giving Strategy, creating breakthrough solutions that will serve as a testbed with local, regional and even global impact.

This isn’t a traditional accelerator - we won’t teach you how to write a business plan or build an MVP, what we will accelerate is the relationship between companies and government. Instead of taking months to access relevant stakeholders, expect to develop a positive relationship with the government of Dubai in days.

The aim of the program is to provide a dynamic environment where companies, NGOs, Development Organizations and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives can explore new opportunities to deliver transformative technologies and services, culminating in companies receiving an MOU (or other commercial agreement) to deliver a funded pilot project after the program ends.


What sort of companies should participate?

Building a social impact business requires almost exactly the same process, strategic thinking and planning for a for profit businesses. In this case we’re optimizing for two outputs- impact and financial sustainability, and not just profit. You can be a for profit, or a non profit organization, but must be able to demonstrate a social model within your business. Although technology remains a core tenant in our selection, the business model is just as important as technical expertise.

While we consider applicants on a case-by-case basis, companies should have already built and launched their core technology, and be able to demonstrate traction and/or substantial use cases. Experience in the region, and within the challenge sector, is also preferred.


Who is not eligible?

Volunteer organizations, social groups and services or any initiatives that do not include technology. While we encourage companies to approach the program with an open mind, we are not ideally open to startups that are still at the ideation stage. While DFA offers an exciting and unrivaled opportunity, it’s important that a company has the resource to commit to the program, without it being a concern for founders or investors.


What will DFA provide?

Core program tenant include engagement with key government entities and other leading figures in the humanitarian and social impact sector, mentorship, business development, sessions and activities on entrepreneurship and on the region’s social impact and humanitarian sector. Program structure and key benefits remain identical to the main DFA program with the exception of flights and visas, which will not be provided by DFA. Accommodation for participants will be provided for.


Does DFA take equity in companies participating in the Humanitarian Accelerators?

Like the core DFA program, we don’t receive or expect any equity in return for your company’s participation.


When is the inaugural Humanitarian Accelerators program taking place?

The program is taking place from October 1st to November 29th in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Applications close on August 19th.


How many employees from our company should attend the program?

We need commitment from two participants per company to attend full-time for 9 weeks. Business development, project management and the ability to rapidly prototype ideas (through software development, design and use of our dedicated maker spaces) are key skills required.


What about part-time participants?

Other team members are welcome to attend several days or weeks of the program as required, however we won’t be able to cover accommodation.


What does my company need to provide?

Since participants will likely be working away from their regular place of work, companies should look to cover living expenses, travel and visa expenses.

Companies must arrange comprehensive medical insurance for all participants - this is a strict condition of attendance, and participants may be asked for proof of cover before traveling to the program.

Finally, every participating company will be required to demonstrate its core technologies in the early weeks of the program. This means that a hardware company should bring some form of their hardware with so it can be tested. If your product is software, participants should be able to not only demonstrate it, but explain it in technical detail.


What is the judging criteria?

Similar to the core DFA program, we are looking for technology companies to help solve challenges.

Factors we will look at include, but are not limited to: Technology; Background Data; Elevator Pitch; Business Model; Market Analysis; Sales & Marketing Strategy; Risk Assessment; Team Profile; Short Video; Investor Deck.


Who owns IP created on the program?

The IP of any new technologies or processes developed in association with Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives belong to your company. However, like any commercial agreement, IP and licensing may be a point of negotiation if Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives offers to fund a pilot project.


How likely is it that my company will receive a pilot project?

The purpose of the program is for technology companies and government to explore opportunities and collaborate. In the first and second DFA programs, over 70% of companies signed an agreement (an MOU or contract) with a government partner by the end of the program. Many companies also developed a significant network of customers and contacts in the region by participating in the program.


Does DFA invest in companies?

The program doesn’t directly invest in participating companies. However, Dubai Future Foundation - DFA’s parent organization - has an investment fund which might invest in a small number of companies that participate in the program.

For more information on the Dubai Future Accelerators Program, please click here.