ICFJ/Google News Initiative (GNI) Startups Lab in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

Application Deadline: January 7, 2023

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) is partnering with Google News Initiative (GNI) to implement a Startups Lab to strengthen a culture of independent news media in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Over six months, sixteen news outlets will tackle specific business problems with support from GNI, ICFJ and leading industry experts. In addition to customized coaching, they will have the opportunity to receive a grant to advance key business goals.


  • The Startups Lab is open to early-stage digital news outlets who focus on public interest journalism, fill an information gap, reach underserved communities, serve a single subject community or are exploring new ways to deliver or monetize information. News organizations based in the following countries are eligible to apply: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Expatriate Syrian organizations will also be considered.


Participants in the Lab will: 

  • Receive customized coaching related to their business goals
  • Implement specific steps to advance their goals
  • Learn from peers who face similar business problems

Newsroom Eligibility

  • Minimum of two full-time employee (FTE) journalists, up to a maximum of 20 FTE journalists.
  • Newsrooms focused on one or more of the following:
    • Public interest journalism
    • Filling an information gap
    • Serving a geographic-bound or single subject community
    • Serving an underserved community
    • Exploring new ways to deliver and/or monetize information
  • Have been producing original content for at least six months, but for no more than four years
  • Have a news product (website, newsletter, etc), with demonstrated traction via site visits, sign-ups, and/or earned revenue
  • You must be independently owned and operated (e.g. no government ownership in your organization)
  • You must not employ government officials or individuals that are also employed by government entities
  • Preferred: Entrepreneurs serving communities that don’t often see themselves or their stories reflected in their local news

Program Eligibility

  • Can read and write fluently in Arabic
  • Can assign a dedicated project manager responsible for ensuring your team attends all program and coaching sessions, and completes all assignments.
  • Can assign 2-5 team members to be involved at different points of the Lab
  • Commitment of 5-10 hours per team per week
  • Willingness to share business insights and collaborate with fellow news entrepreneurs
  • Not a Google employee or contractor

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the ICFJ/Google News Initiative (GNI) Startups Lab in the Middle East and North Africa

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