February 23, 2017, Dubai UAE: The role of women in the economy is widely recognized as a key driver of progress. Interestingly, research shows if we increased women’s participation in the workforce, in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region alone, it would add $180 billion , or 7 percent, to the economy in 2025, forming the backbone of a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem across the wider MENA region.
To foster this opportunity, Facebook is launching #SheMeansBusiness to train women entrepreneurs on how to leverage their online presence for their businesses. #SheMeansBusiness is a global program that Facebook is launching in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to train and inspire women entrepreneurs on using Facebook and Instagram as platforms for their businesses. It aims to celebrate the achievements and contributions of female-owned businesses in the region and highlight how Instagram and Facebook empowers women to connect, share and grow.
In the MENA, #SheMeansBusiness is partnering with organizations in the UAE and Egypt to train 10,000 women in one year. In the UAE, Facebook is working with Sheraa Sharjah and Emirates Foundation. In Egypt, Ahead of the Curve will take the lead in building a team of partners to reach women across the country. Through a coalition of partners, #SheMeansBusiness will run a series of workshops, training sessions and online resources to arm women entrepreneurs with the knowledge, connections, skills and technology required to build and grow their business online.
Potential for significant growth of SMB community as women currently run only one-third of SMBs in MENA.
Across the UAE 74% of people are already connected to at least one business in a foreign country; in Egypt and in Saudi Arabia the figure is at 63%.
Nicola Mendelsohn, VP EMEA at Facebook, said: “When women do better, economies do better. That’s why Facebook is celebrating women who have built and run businesses, and delivering resources to help those who might one day do so themselves. With 152 million people accessing Facebook every month, and 63 million on Instagram, SMBs can directly reach existing customers and find new ones simply because this is where people are spending their time. #SheMeansBusiness will guide women business owners on how to do so.”
Facebook partnered with regional organizations that have unrivalled expertise in supporting entrepreneurs to provide advice, knowledge and tools that will give more women the practical support they need.
Clare Woodcraft-Scott, CEO of Emirates Foundation, said: “At Emirates Foundation we believe in a focused model of philanthropy where impact can be maximized through effective and long term partnerships. This is part of the promise we bring to our nation’s development and the value proposition we offer our partners. This is particularly visible through our Kafa’at Programme where the investment in creating a social entrepreneurship culture is coming to life and maturing into a successful model that is contributing directly to the development of a knowledge-based economy. Investment in young entrepreneurs, technology, research and incubation of budding ideas through our private sector partnerships will without doubt expedite the transformation of our economy into a model of sustainable growth and development.”
“Today, the business ecosystem across our region is changing. Emirates Foundation is partnering with Facebook on #SheMeansBusiness, to strengthen the existing foundations of female entrepreneurship and enable economic impact. Together, we will work to build training programs and resources that will help reach and resonate with women in the UAE”, Woodcraft concluded.”
Najla Al-Midfa, General Manager of Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa), commented: “Now, more than ever, the entrepreneurial dream is becoming an empowering reality for women in the region. Tools like Facebook and Instagram are now the cornerstones in building new startups, and with this partnership and a coalition of organizations, Sheraa will continuously work throughout the year towards venture creation.”
#SheMeansBusiness resources, tools and inspiration can be found on: https://shemeansbusiness.fb.com/ae/
Women in the Middle East and North Africa have built business and connected to their online presence for further success. Here are examples of success stories from the region that can also be found on our microsite
- Egyptian entrepreneurs Mai Medhat and Nihal Fares partnered to create Eventtus, an app that enables organizers to consolidate efforts for planning, marketing, and ticket sales, while engaging attendees before, during, and after events. Mai’s ambition led her to be recognised as one of the world’s most promising innovators at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016. Mai represented the Middle East startup community on a panel with Barack Obama and Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
- Palestinian-Canadian sisters Rania and Zaina Kanaan, co-founders of Chari Cycles, turned their passion for cycling into a social enterprise designed to help children living in refugee camps across the region. Chari Cycles sells up-cycled Japanese bicycle frames which are further remodelled according to customers’ preferences. The sisters are also helping to support other woman in becoming independent businesswoman with their first business, ecommerce market-place, Ananasa.com.
- Sarah Beydoun dedicated her life to building beauty from hardship. Her 16-year-old business, Sarah’s Bag, began life as a program to help female prisoners learn a craft and a set of skills to assist with their rehabilitation upon release. Sarah’s Bag is now an internationally renowned brand with 50 points of sale in 22 countries, along with regular placements on leading fashion eCommerce sites and feature in magazines including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle.
- Laura Tabet set up Nawaya, an Egyptian initiative to provide extension and advisory services to small-scale, rural communities. Nawaya is set up as a platform where research and knowledge are generated into practical applications for locally identified problems.
- Iman Ben Chaibah founded Sail Publishing, a digital content hub about cultural and community matters written in English by Emirati columnists. It fosters love of the written word among the youth. For her entrepreneurial efforts, Ben Chaibah earned a number of industry accolades, including the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award at the second Arabian Business StartUp awards, and the Digital Publishing Award by the British Council UAE.
- Sandra Macaroon set up Smac, a democratic design brand for a variety of home accessories and products made of acrylic. Each collection has a story or inspiration behind it, relevant to the Middle East.