Tech companies support women entrepreneurs in the Arab world

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Aspire Woman Initiative

With 74% of women confident that they can achieve a balanced professional and personal life and reach the upper echelons of business leadership, the reality in the Arab world is quite different.

Only 20% of business ownership positions in the region are held by women, while in Latin America and the Caribbean this number reaches 39%. Despite current challenges, there are several successful stories of women entrepreneurs, like Latifa Alwaalan in Saudi Arabia, who have managed to establish their own companies in the region.

Stakeholders in the region today are beginning to recognize and address these challenges and several large tech companies have begun to offer trainings and funding for women entrepreneurs to scale their startups. Two such programs are listed below:

Microsoft-Egypt’s Woman Aspire Conference

Through its CSR programming, Citizenship@Microsoft Egypt, Microsoft Egypt organized the Aspire Women Initiative conference on June 18, 2013 in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Around a hundred women professionals and students from across Egypt attended the event which included workshops to discuss the main problems facing Egyptian woman, including political and social participation and violence against women in the country.

Many successful women shared their experiences while young attendees participated in a training aimed at developing leadership skills.

One workshop, titled “About your dream”, offered participants the chance to draw their won magazine cover for an Egyptian publication that would be published five years from now, using their ambitions and hopes as headlines for the page. The Aspire Women Initiative will continue offering these types of events supported by Microsoft and in cooperation with Youth Spark.

Blackberry’s scholarship program

Blackberry also recently launched the global “Blackberry Scholars Program” for to help women earn degrees in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math from universities around the globe.

The program offers women full tuition for four years and is designed to increase the number of women who participate in developing businesses related to these fields.

In addition to tutorials and scholarships, Blackberry will also provide advice and mentorship to students who will be selected depending on their academic capabilities and interest in joining the mobile computing space. The program also aims to encourage women to become professionals in developing smartphone applications.

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