On September 23rd, I spoke at The Arab Women In Leadership & Business Summit in Dubai about technology-based entrepreneurship. In the 2-day event, I sat among the audience, of mostly women, listening to their stories, questions, concerns, and most of all... complaints, such as the lack of role models in our Arab community... And that is what I aimed to prove wrong through my presentation. You can read the details in my blog post:
• Stats & Trends of Arab Women Entrepreneurship
• Challenges of Arab Women Technology-Based
• Drivers of Arab Women Technology-Based Entrepreneurship
• Driving Change & Overcoming Challenges of Arab Women
An independent social media strategist, consultant and trainer, with experience in public
relations, communications, branding, marketing, and advertising.
Technology-based Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurs whose business
depend on technology for development and survival. They can be tech-developers
who develop a unique technology to drive business, or tech-users
who take advantage of technology to meet a market need.
Stats and Trends
• Women make up half of university attendees in the MENA region but are
only 21 per cent of the workforce (Middle East Monitor; November 2013)
• 35% of entrepreneurs in the Middle East are women (Economist; July 2013)
Stats and Trends
• For every woman running a business, over 6 women intend to start a
company; compared to only 2.5 men for every male entrepreneur, in
the MENA (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2012 Women’s Report)
Co-founded the parenting website Supermama with Zeinab Samir in 2011. She faced many negative cultural stereotypes
as a single woman entrepreneur but was positive about the startup ecosystem in Egypt being more supportive than it is in
the West, and was able to secure funding as bias towards male founders was not yet apparent. Middle East Monitor
Programmer and mommy of 3, launched Aqar-estate.com in 2008, a real estate digital platform for the MENA, which was
a challenge in a male-dominated industry that she had to finance herself until she secured seed investment from Oasis500.
2 years ago, she started HelloWorldKids, teaching programming to kids and inspiring them to be tech entrepreneurs.
NEED FOR WOMEN-FOCUSED STARTUPS SUPPORT NETWORK
Palestinian student who co-founded Fadfid, an online psychotherapy platform that connects patients seeking expert
psychological advice to specialists across the Arab world, after having enrolled at Qiyadat, a local leadership program, to
find an innovative solution using technology to solve pervasive problems in society. Arabnet
Programmer & gamer, co-founded the world’s biggest and Saudi’s first girls-only yearly gaming convention and
community in Riyadh. In Saudi, where gender segregation poses a challenge in the workforce, that consists only 20% of
women, gaming is a powerful option for those who prefer flexible hours and working from home. Wamda
Duna AlSiyari & Hussa AlShamran
Two college students who kickstarted the eCommerce site Qurtsyah in 2012 as the first in Saudi to sell stationary online.
They face difficulties with payment methods, but are determined on growing their business to the GCC, and continue to
apply their college learnings to practical business experience and starting their own line of Arabic-style stationary.
A stay-at-home mom, launched her first business a year ago, baking cake and selling it using Instagram & Whatsapp as
she found it to be cheap, easy and time-saving. Although it was a challenge for her to keep up with technology & learn
how to leverage it, it has enabled her, and many other women like her, to secure income with her skills & talents through
technology. (Personal Interview)
What can YOU do?
DRIVING CHANGE & OVERCOMING CHALLENGES…
Raise girls to overcome negative stereotypes by encouraging them to explore their interests in a gender-neutral
environment, and learn tech skills from a young age.
Resources: Scratch; Hackety; Khan Academy; Code.org; Tahrir Academy; The Little Engineer
Encourage female students to aspire for an education & career in tech by nurturing and developing their
innate skills, and using educational technology to teach and inspire them.
Resources: Khan Academy; Code Academy; TechGirls; EdSurge
Share your experience and knowledge, support others’ entrepreneurial activities/intentions, and welcome
opportunities to mentor and guide women with entrepreneurial activities/intentions.
Resources: Wamda Mix n’ mentor; Arabnet; Wamda 4 Women; Linkedin Groups
Support them, enable them, encourage them, share their stories, give them feedback…