Women entrepreneurs share stories at WEEGS 2019

  • Tuesday 10, December 2019 07:30 PM
Sharjah 24: With the aim of unlocking women’s potential and inspiring them to break through barriers, successful female entrepreneurs shared their success stories on the opening day, on Tuesday, of the second edition of the Women’s Economic Empowerment Global Summit (WEEGS) being held at the Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre in Sharjah.
In a session titled ‘Nothing for Her Without Her – Entrepreneurs success stories’, three entrepreneurs offered keen insights into their entrepreneurial journey while emphasising how they are driving a positive impact both in business and the communities they serve in.

Hanane Benkhallouk, Founder and Executive Director of Sustain Leadership Consultancy in Dubai, described how the opportunity to head entrepreneurship and innovation programmes across the Arab world inspired her to work towards “making the change that is bigger than yourself”.

“I saw the wide gap between skills taught in school and what’s needed in the workplace, and I wanted to be a game changer, to help a generation that can create value,” she said.

“Women have the talent, they just need the opportunity, and young people are the greatest assets of the Arab world,” she added, explaining why she chose to advancing female talents from ‘concept to completion’.

Rebecca Fries, Managing Director and Founder of Value for Women, a specialised advisory firm, said, “Women are key drivers of economic and social growth and I was inspired by the business case for women’s economic inclusion and the leadership capabilities they bring to better the bottom line.”

“Bringing a gender lens to business practices is essential to addressing the gap in access to finance for women entrepreneurs,” she added.
She also stressed on the power of collaboration to deliver practical, cross-sector solutions and as an important driver to building sustainable business ecosystems for women entrepreneurs.

Helen Disney, CEO/Founder of Unblocked Events, who is utilising the potential of Bitcoin and blockchain technology to transform businesses in several sectors including healthcare and energy, emphasised the importance of mentorship in encouraging women entrepreneurs around the world.

“Even with all our lofty dreams, we often underestimate our own potential,” she said. “It takes a mentor to recognise the spark and the power invested in us. The untapped potential of women entrepreneurs is huge, and mentoring is a key mode of unlocking this.”

Stating that only 2.8 per cent of venture capital goes to women entrepreneurs in the US, she asserted the need for adequate funding to scale up women’s economic participation.

Creating an equitable world through technology
Earlier, in a session titled ‘Creating an equitable world through technology’, Alexandria Lafci, co-founder of New Story, a US-based non-profit, described how her organisation harnessed the power of an emerging technology to impact more than 14,000 lives in 22 communities across four countries.

“More than 1.6 billion people have no access to adequate housing globally, a number that is set to triple by 2050,” she said, adding how 3D printed homes are today creating low-environment impact housing solutions with simple materials at low cost for those affected by earthquakes or live in high seismic activity areas.

“Using a technology that was focused on the needs of a niche community – to build homes in space; we have used it to address a global challenge by creating built-to-last homes that will have a far-reaching impact on generations to come,” she said.

WEEGS 2019 is taking place at the Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre on December 10 – 11, and is organised by NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA) in collaboration with UN Women.