SCW Secretary-General highlights female entrepreneurs’ major role in boosting region’s economy

Manama, July 8 (BNA): Hala Al-Ansari, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Women, highlighted the key role played by women entrepreneurs in the economies of the Middle East.


In an opinion piece published by the World Economic Forum titled “Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East,” Al Ansari said, “Most science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) graduates in the Middle East are women. This valuable resource is a major focus for the region,” noting that Increasing women’s participation in the workforce could add $2.7 trillion to the region’s economy by 2025.


She stressed that “women entrepreneurs will work to strengthen the economies of the Middle East, as the share of women in professional and technical jobs, led by women entrepreneurs, will double by 2030.”


Therefore, supporting these pioneers became an economic and social necessity. This is of paramount importance in the Middle East region, and there are many initiatives launched by the public and private sectors across the region to help unleash its full potential.”


In her article, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Women called for creating an ecosystem for female entrepreneurs.


In this regard, she wrote: “Women entrepreneurs around the world face challenges in accessing investment opportunities. Several Middle Eastern economies are working to address this discrepancy by creating a supportive ecosystem for women entrepreneurs.


Private sector initiatives form an important part of this matrix. She WINS Arabia, an initiative of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, supports nearly 200 women-led startups in the region through financial solutions, advice, and mentorship.


She’s Next, a global advocacy program supported by Visa, is another initiative also dedicated to providing access to capital for women entrepreneurs.


Globally, it has invested over $2.2 million in female small business owners in the US, Canada, India and Ireland, and launched in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region for the first time.

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The initiative operates in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and most recently Bahrain, with the goal of providing $50,000 in grants to a single winner, along with access to resources such as a library of workshops and a thriving global community of entrepreneurs. “


Regarding the public sector, she said, “Its initiatives also have a role to play. Saudi Arabia is collaborating with the University of Texas at Austin to provide a mentoring platform for women entrepreneurs, while the Gender Balance Council in the UAE has specific powers to increase women’s representation on corporate boards.” including start-up companies.


As for the UN’s efforts, she noted, “The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has also launched a new start-up competition aimed at supporting women-owned tech startups in the tourism industry.”


Referring to the Kingdom, Al Ansari wrote: “Bahrain has supported female-led startups through a variety of initiatives. The Kingdom’s National Plan for the Advancement of Bahraini Women has a mandate to enable women to “contribute to development, and form equal partnerships in building a sustainable competitive society.” She also has an initiative called “Sports Finance,” a $100 million fund targeting startups and small and medium-sized businesses owned by women.


“According to recent statistics, more than 332 women-owned businesses have benefited from the fund in areas such as selling pharmaceutical and medical goods, travel agencies, construction, event management, day care centers, and nurseries.”


In another sub-heading on “Enhancing Women’s Economic Participation,” Al-Ansari indicated that “business and commerce continues to attract women to join the labor market as it opens doors for more creativity, flexibility and innovation within their direct field of specialization, and obtaining export opportunities enhances women’s economic participation.” more.”

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She said, “Export has also proven to create new markets, expand existing markets and break boundaries, and research clearly shows that there is a direct relationship between exports and the gross domestic product of the exporting country,” noting that “Middle Eastern countries open the doors for female participation in the market. For example, For example, Bahrain – despite being “geographically cohesive” – ​​acts as a growing economy that provides unique opportunities for export, through the Bahrain Export Initiative and cooperation with the Supreme Council for Women.


She indicated that the initiative aims to further enhance women’s access and access to global markets through a wide range of programs, facilities and support that facilitate Bahraini exports to international markets with a value of more than $132 million – 32% of Bahraini exporters are women entrepreneurs, to 28 countries. 50% of these companies have exported their products or services to regional and international markets for the first time.


In this context, she shed light on the UAE’s experience in this field.


Dubai Exports has partnered with the International Trade Commission (ITC) and UPS to launch SheTrades MENA. The SheTrades Center in the Middle East and North Africa will provide women with opportunities to expand their business through increased business and market information, targeted assistance and relationships with each other.”


The Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Women devoted part of her opinion piece to the inspiring success stories of Middle Eastern women.

In this regard, she wrote: “Increased support for women entrepreneurs translates into success. In Bahrain, last year’s Young Women Entrepreneurs Seal winners (awarded by Bahrain’s First Lady, Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of His Majesty the King and President of the Supreme Council for Women) included last year’s winners. Inventor of a platform providing teleradiological analysis and diagnostic services, the country’s first developer of innovative botanical products, and a pioneer in providing surgical and therapeutic services for the early treatment of breast cancer.

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Elsewhere, payment app Zywa was founded in Dubai by Noha Hashem and is the first new bank designed for teens in the region. The platform allows teens to spend, receive and manage money without the need for cash, and has raised $3 million to expand across the Middle East.


Potion Kitchen is a Lebanese clean beauty brand that uses sustainable Mediterranean ingredients, and Playbook is a Bahraini edtech platform accelerating career growth for women at every level of leadership.


“Affectiva” is a startup co-founded by Egyptian-born Rana El Kalioby that has developed advanced AI technology that enables computers to recognize human emotions through physiological responses and facial cues. Affectiva has received numerous awards and recognitions, including being included in the CB Insights AI 100 and Forbes AI 50.


“Meanwhile, Haqiqa—a family banking and financial literacy app co-founded by Dina Shoman—has raised more than $1 million to provide financial education to children and their parents.”


Concluding her opinion piece, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Women said: “The full potential of female entrepreneurs is ready to be unleashed. Empowering women with higher education in the Middle East can add trillions to the economy and ensure social stability.”


“Entrepreneurship provides women with financial independence and empowerment, inspiring the next generation of girls and young women to follow their own paths,” she concluded.


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