The Challenge

We(Em)Power Cities: Empowering Women to Power Cities, is an acceleration program powered by a consortium of public and private sector organizations (names listed below) that provides training, mentorship, professional networking and early stage capital to female entrepreneurs from Latin America. We(Em)Power Cities is modeled after WeMENA, a program launched by the World Bank in 2014 with a focus on the Middle East (pictures below).

We(Em)Power Cities supports women entrepreneurs to accelerate innovative businesses that also create positive impact to the environmental, health, social or economic aspects of their cities.

For this round, We(Em)Power is looking for entrepreneurs whose ventures create positive impacts in Panama City, Panama. Panama City is a hub for economic development and activity along the waterfront, and has established resilience and entrepreneurship as pillars of economic growth.

Network with mentors from Silicon Valley and around the world
In-Person Workshops & Webinars
Training in business skills, design-thinking, resilience-thinking, networking and pitching
Select companies recieve investment offers, CEO & Board advisory services, among other benefits.



The ideal candidate is a woman entrepreneur led team with a proven track record in one of the following areas. Candidates should also be able to articulate how their venture will create a positive impact in the above mentioned cities. Each candidate will apply by identifying a clear problem and an innovative solution to that problem.

Ventures in this area will address inefficiencies in agriculture, and will improve food systems to provide better food security for all


Ventures in this area will positively impact the ecosystems, societal well-being and economic prosperity around it


Ventures in this area will improve access to water and to sanitation for all


Ventures in this area will improve housing, transport and resilient infrastructure to foster economic development & jobs

Transportation, Infrastructure & Housing

Ventures in this area will enhance education, skills development and training

Education & Skills Development

Ventures in this area improve their communities’ health systems and make them more resilient


Ventures in this area use cutting-edge technology to build more robust services to customers, improve financial inclusion in their communities, and help the government better deliver services to those in need by leveraging data


Ventures in this area improve job recruitment, employee engagement, health, safety & benefits administration

Human Capital Management

Ventures in this area help communities better prepare themselves in the face of natural disasters, flooding, and extreme weather, among others




Join our structured program with access to mentors and training to accelrate your business
Top winners get Awards
Additional funding opportunities with angel and early-stage investors in the region may also arise



“Current Status: The Application Submission phase is now closed and the Review Phase is in progress. The dates are subject to change.”

Sep 1 - Oct 31
Information Sessions

Information Sessions in Panama City will cover competition requirements, application and selection process.

Oct 12
Applications Open

Submit your application through online platform (Apply link on this website) when the Applications opens up

Nov 30
Submissions Close

Submissions close and judging period starts.

Jan 19
Top 20 Winners Announced

20 women-led ventures in each city will be selected and notified to join We(Em)Power program

Feb 28
Mentorship & Training for 20 Winners

We(Em)Power will assist in further developing their ventures and ideas with guidance and resources from mentors and partners.

Mar 1 - Mar 14
Stage 2 Application

Top 20 winners will submit their stage 2 application

Apr 8
Announce Finalists

Top finalists will be selected to pitch at the Grand Finale event.

May 7 - May 8
Top Finalists Pitch at Grand Finale Event

Top winners will be selected to win cash prizes

We(Em)Power Cities Challenge

Application Open date: October 12, 2017, 9:00am EST
Submission Deadline date: November 30, 2017, 5:00pm EST

Please read the following requirements before you complete the application to the We(Em)Power Cities Competition!
  1. Location. The business proposed in the application must operate or be willing to operate their activities in Panama City, Panama.
  2. SME Focus. For-profit business or For-profit social enterprise must be a small or medium size venture with a need for early stage capital. An established organization with a growth project looking to expand its activities is eligible to apply, although it is not a focus for this program.
  3. Individuals or Teams. Applicants can participate as an individual or as part of a team. Each team can include female and male members provided that the team appoints a female team leader. The team leader is the main contact and one other member should be designated as the secondary contact. Ideally, the team leader or the main contact should be conversant in English. The team leader will represent the team in the Grand Finale event (please refer to Schedule). The secondary contact may attend on an exceptional basis.
  4. Age.All applicants must be 18 years of age or older must have a strong interest in starting their own organization or expanding their SME venture.
  5. Residence. At least one member of the team or the individual applicant must be a legal resident or citizen of Panama. Documentation will be required.
  6. Ventures Committed to Positive Impacts. Applicants will present actionable, sustainable and scalable business solutions to create positive environmental, health, social or economic impacts in Panama city and beyond. Applicants may provide business solutions in the areas such as agribusiness, sustainability, transportation, infrastructure improvements, clean water, sanitation, healthcare and disease prevention, education and skills development, refugee management, energy security, community well-being, fintech, technology, smart city, human capital management, job creation, among other priorities identified by the respective target cities.
  7. Information sessions. Applicants are encouraged to attend information sessions (please refer to Schedule) or contact us (information posted on website) to discuss competition requirements, the application process, and the selection process.
  8. Application. The application deadline is posted above. You are encouraged to submit your application early and not wait until the last day in case there are any technical difficulties or any questions that you may want to get answered from us before submitting. The application should be submitted online under the team leader’s name and must include all the key team members.
  9. FAQ’s: For general questions, please refer to the FAQ section.
  10. Contact Us: If you still have any questions, please contact us via email (by clicking at the Email button in the top right section of this website) or via social media accounts (also posted on the website).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is We(Em)Power Cities Challenge?

We(Em)Power Cities is an acceleration program that awards cash prizes, and offers mentoring and training, and creates potential investment opportunities for women entrepreneurs in the Latin America.

We aim to accelerate innovative high-growth SME (small or medium size) businesses that also create positive impacts for target cities while supporting women entrepreneurs by serving as a connector between them and the public and private sector investors, universities, research organizations, mentors, risk management experts, potential customers and other business partners.

2. Who can enter?

The competition attracts women entrepreneurs and leaders who are seeking investment and support to accelerate their idea or SME venture into the market. This competition is open to women participating as individuals, as teams, or on behalf of a legal entity (i.e. a Small or Medium size company). Participants applying on behalf of the legal entity must prove they have partial or full ownership of the companies they propose for funding.

Applicants from around the world may participate, but the solutions proposed must create positive impacts in the target cities identified in the competition. For detailed requirements.

We don’t limit the contest, so don’t limit your ideas. However, give some thought to what you think will have the best chance to win, so pay attention to how the ideas are judged.

3. How are the ideas judged?

Ideas will be judges based on a combination of the following factors (in no weighted order):

  • Team
    • Does the management team have required experience and skills to make this venture successful and deal with uncertainties, changes and challenges?
    • Is the team complete (do they have complementary skills and experiences to be successful) ? Are they realistic about their limitations and add other senior team members?
  • Concept and Product:
    • Does this team have a superior concept and product based on advantageous technology?
    • Is the team’s solution superior to the competitor(s)’s?
    • Is the value proposition to the customer appealing?
  • Impact Proposition
    • Does the team create positive impact to the target city while remaining profitable?
    • Does the team understand and integrate with the top priorities outlined by their respective cities?
  • Market opportunity
    • Is the market large enough, reachable, and defendable?
    • Are the target customer segment(s) and their needs and accurately identified?
    • Does this team understand who the present and future competitors are, and how to stay ahead?
  • Likelihood of long-term success and growth
    • Has this team addressed the obvious gotchas that could prevent their business from getting off the ground?
    • Is the product and technology presented feasible?
    • Is the market strategy presented by the team realistic?
  • Financials and Funding Requirement
    • Can this team create a profitable business?
    • Does the team appear to understand the minutia of their business model – unit cost, customer acquisition costs, customer service implications, etc.
4. Is there a cost to participate in the We(Em)Power Cities Challenge?

There is no cost to submit a venture, but if selected participants (the team leader) will have to cover their own travel costs to the Grand Finale event. We will never ask you for your bank account or credit card information.

5. Will We(Em)Power Cities own submitted ideas or solutions?

No. When participants submit their business ventures, they are not transferring ownership to We(Em)Power Cities. Participants still own their idea or solution, and they can continue to use it for any purpose, either independently, or in partnership with others. We are here to work with you to make your venture successful, but it’s still your venture, requiring your inspiration and hard work, so of course you should still own it!

6. Who will be participating in the judging panels, and how are judges selected?

The judges will include experts in resilience, entrepreneurs from the region and from abroad, and industry experts.

The judging panels are typically designed to ensure there are subject matter experts on the judges panel who generally reflect aspects of the submitted entries. We will announce the judging panel once the judging process starts.

7. Will the Consortium make any investment in the winning companies?

The Consortium does not and will not make any investment in the participating ventures. However, the Consortium may invite investors to the Grand Finale where opportunities for equity investment into participating ventures may arise.

8. Where can I view the terms and conditions of the We(Em)Power Cities Challenge?

All the terms are conditions are described on this We(Em)Power Cities challenge website.

9. Do I have to reside in the Latin America in order to participate?

Applicants from anywhere around the world can participate in the We(Em)Power Cities competition, as long as their proposed solution creates positive impact in Panama City, Panama. At least one member of the team or the individual applicant must be a legal resident or citizen of Panama. A proof of residence or citizenship will be required.

Empowering WOMEN to keep cities stronger


WeEMPOWER CITIES Panama (2-minute video)
WeMENA Competition 2017 Summary (2-minute video)
WeMENA Competition 2017 Grand Finale (4-minute video)
Leveraging Women Entrepreneurship for Resilience in MENA Cities (4-minute video)
Panama Resilience Strategy