She’s Next Grant Competition is a global endeavor to spotlight women in business. It has been specifically designed to help women entrepreneurs and small business owners secure the funding they need to survive and thrive, while also empowering them with coaching, peer-to-peer connections, and inspiration. Forbes Middle East in collaboration with Visa is hosting “She’s next: Spotlighting Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East” to shed light on the growing importance of shifting the mindset of “It’s a man’s world” in this region targeting the UAE, KSA, Egypt, and Morocco.
This event will harness powerful female business leaders and entrepreneurs to discuss the challenges faced and how to overcome the barriers hindering growth. The event will also feature insights on how to enhance business management skills, coaching female entrepreneurs while creating an awareness of Visa’s grants and programs to launch and develop SMEs. Between each session, we will have an open mic with the top 2 winners from each of the 4 markets to give them the opportunity to share their business stories in the form of an elevator pitch.
Before we kick-start the series of insightful talks and discussions on the day, the MC will give a quick shout-out to celebrate the 5 winners in each market acquiring $10,000 prize fund each and 1-year IFW mentorship program.
Join us in this exclusive event to find out the key strategies for women empowerment and thus achieving gender equality. “It’s time people started seeing that being a woman in business is a strength, not a weakness.”
Chairwoman & Creative Director
Azza Fahmy Jewellery
Over 50 years ago, Azza Fahmy initiated her journey towards being one of the most esteemed jewellery designers in the MEA region. With a profound purpose, Azza Fahmy has taken the role of translating the region’s culture and international art and historic references to the world, through contemporary jewellery design that reflects her unique research approach and craftsmanship preservation. The notion of Azza Fahmy as a brand takes place at the 1969 Egyptian Book Fair, while stumbling upon a German art book about the classical jewellery of Medieval Europe. Upon viewing, she is instantly struck with inspiration and passion, thus beginning the successful journey that is Azza Fahmy Jewellery. Continuing in her day job, she became an apprentice in Khan El Khalili, Egypt’s ancient jewellery quarter where she spent her evenings learning with one of the craft’s most respected masters – the first woman to achieve this. This was followed in the mid-1970s by a scholarship from the British Council where she completed her jewellery craft education at the City of London Polytechnic. She has also transferred her talents to architectural design, with solar technology company KarmSolar. In 2013, she independently funded and established the successful ‘Design Studio by Azza Fahmy’ (DSAF), the first design education hub of its kind in the region. Azza Fahmy travels internationally as a cultural ambassador for her country, her dedication to her craft and exquisitely designed jewellery has won her international recognition that boasts a diverse client list attracting jewellery connoisseurs from around the world including royalty and stage and screen. Azza works in partnership with her daughters Fatma Ghaly, Managing Director and Amina Ghali, Head of Design. Celebrated as one of Egypt’s most influential women, Azza’s craft has captured the attention of cultural and fashion cognoscenti and has seen her collaborate with world renowned designers, for all of whom she curated pieces to complement their collections.
Société Générale Maroc
Born in 1972, Asmae HAJJAMI is a graduate of the Mohammedia school of Engineers. She began her career in business consulting in Department of Trade and Industry before joining Société General Morocco in 1999 within the Projects and Organization Department. In 2007, she took over responsibility for the Domestic Flows Department and Cash Management before being appointed in 2011 as Regional Director of the South region in the distribution network. In 2014, Asmae was appointed deputy head of the Resources Division Générales and Banque de Flux and took over responsibility in 2015. She was appointed Deputy Managing Director in 2016 then Managing Director in 2018 and member of the Management Board.
Founder and CEO
Elissa Freiha is an entrepreneur, investor, executive producer, public speaker, women’s rights advocate and founder of Womena, a Digital Media company that creates compelling female-focused content in the MENA region. As a prominent speaker on women's involvement in entrepreneurship and active angel investor with over 30 investments between North America and MENA, Elissa has been frequently recognized in various media outlets, appearing on BBC’s 30under30, Forbes Middle East’s “50 Business Leaders Inspiring The UAE”, and Arabian Business’ “100 World’s Most Influential Arabs”, “100 Most Powerful Arab Women”, “100 Most Influential Arabs under 40”, “Entrepreneur of the year 2019” by One Young World,Forbes Middle East's "100 Power Business Women 2020" as well as as being named one of the 10 people that will shape the region over the next decade by Esquire Magazine.Prior to co-founding WOMENA, Elissa has previously worked in marketing, sales, and events in entertainment and media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Global Communications from the American University of Paris, the city in which she was born and raised. She is an Emirati of Lebanese and American descent.
Head of Business Banking Segments, Products & Credit Relations Management
Mr. Hany ElDieb is currently the Head of Business Banking Segments, Products and Credit Customers Relationship Management at Commercial International Bank – CIB Egypt. He is a seasoned Banking professional with over 16 years of experience in the Banking industry, covering a wide range of financial products and activities. His aspiration is to make a bigger impact in today’s dynamic environment. Mr. ElDieb in his capacity is heading the SME business in CIB, maintain a favorable business model that serves strategic objectives, customer experience while maximizing value for all stakeholders. With 16 years of Banking experience under his belt, He has played several roles in regional and international originations, Hany joined CIB in 2011 with a proven leadership and achievement track record in various roles within the SME Banking domain; including sales, product, segment and acquisitions. Hany holds an MBA degree with honors from the AUC, Corporate Strategy and Strategic Marketing Executive programs from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and Hong Kong University of Science and technology.
Originally from Lebanon and now based in Dubai, Wazen is one of the biggest social media influencers in the Middle East, with over six million Instagram followers. Wazen launched her eponymous eyewear brand in 2018, with her pieces seen on celebrities such as Dua Lipa and Gabrielle Union. Her sunglasses are sold in the U.K., Egypt, Qatar, the U.A.E., Kuwait, and Lebanon. Wazen has also launched a mobile phone game titled "Karen Wazen—My World."
Leslie Reed began her tour as USAID Mission Director for Egypt in August 2020 and is leading USAID/Egypt to support US and Egyptian government priorities in climate change, COVID-19 response, anti-corruption, women's social and economic empowerment, economic growth, and social and economic inclusion, among others. Before arriving in Egypt, she most recently served as Mission Director in South Sudan where she led the development of the mission’s new country strategy, the establishment of a new FSN (local staff) Advisory Leadership Council, and the USG humanitarian response to ongoing civil strife, historic floods, rising food insecurity and COVID-19. She served as Mission Director for Ethiopia from 2016 to 2019, where she led a major effort to promote Ethiopian government reforms, the development of the Mission’s new country strategy, and the USG's efforts to address several complex humanitarian crises. As Mission Director for Uganda from 2012–2016, Ms. Reed pioneered the Mission of Leaders Program that received agency-wide accolades for empowering staff to lead at all levels, resulting in greater development results. Ms. Reed also served as Deputy Regional Mission Director for USAID's Southern Africa Mission, as USAID’s Assistant General Counsel for Africa in Washington D.C., and as a Foreign Service regional legal advisor in Lima, Peru, and Accra, Ghana. Before joining USAID, Ms. Reed was a senior project finance officer and assistant general counsel for the Export-Import Bank of the United States and an associate with the law firm of Morrison & Foerster in Los Angeles. Ms. Reed is a graduate of UCLA School of Law and the University of California, San Diego.
Strategist, driven and passionate - Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, Madiha has led a versatile and ambitious career over the years across finance, tech and media. Madiha pursued her university education in the United States, graduating from Harvard University with a degree in History & Literature. She then headed various positions in New York, Karachi and Dubai. Madiha joined Careem in 2018 and has taken on several roles across the company’s services. She started out as Head of Merchants for the Food business, launched the Shops and Delivery products and businesses, led a cross-functional effort to launch the Careem Super App, and headed partnerships to bring third-party apps onto the Super App. She now holds the position of Head of Strategy and Strategic Partnerships for Careem Pay. Through her career, Madiha has led an expansive portfolio of strategy, execution and management roles in leading companies. Her professional background includes investment banking and management consulting at McKinsey in the US, global corporate strategy at banks like Lehman Brothers and JPMorgan, and heading strategic initiatives for 21st Century Fox’s media JV in the region. Furthermore, Madiha still found some time to indulge her passion for writing and politics as a current affairs journalist in Pakistan. Bringing a wealth of experience to Careem, Madiha envisions making Careem Pay the leading digital financial services provider of the region. Today, Madiha is leading strategy development and key partnerships for Careem’s fintech business and products. Moreover, she supports the corporate division on investments, mergers and acquisitions, and establishes governance and performance-reporting structures as well as advises Careem’s CEO on key matters.
Business Development Manager
Dubai Business Women Council
As Dubai Business Women Council’s Business Development Manager, Nadine helps drive business success by adopting a ‘start-up’ style of management that fosters innovation, takes advantage of new opportunities and interprets industry trends to maximize strategic objectives. Encouraging entrepreneurship is an important part of the Council’s work in inspiring women to be the best they can be. As such, she ensures that the Council is an environment in which women feel motivated to innovate, create and thrive. In 2021, Nadine Halabi was nominated as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in the Region under the list of ‘Women of Influence in the Arab World 2021’ by CEO Middle East. The list was under the patronage of UN women and is both a celebration of the region’s female leaders and pioneers as well as a snapshot of the economic and social currents coursing through the contemporary Middle East. Throughout her tenure at the Council, she managed to bring on board long lasting strategic partnerships with organizations and companies who share the same mission and vision, and who delivered tailor made content for exclusive workshops for the members of the Council with the main purpose of helping them develop their entrepreneurial skills. Through her demonstrated intrapreneurial approach to business, Nadine is considered in a strong position to continue charting the course of helping working women in Dubai develop their skills and abilities while maintaining mentorship and accelerator programmes to continuously support the members of the Dubai Business Women Council as well as the entrepreneurs in Dubai.
Set with a profound commitment to Egypt, Mirna Arif brings in 20 years of experience with multinational organizations and public sector entities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa into the position of Microsoft Egypt Country General Manager. Equipped with a strong belief in empathy-based management and in youth training, the first woman to assume this prestigious role is leading the nation’s technological movement towards digital transformation. To assert Microsoft Egypt’s competitive edge in the country’s tech industry, Arif is expanding the company’s digital footprint across public and private organizations to accelerate their conversion towards a digital economy. Arif’s passion closely ties with Microsoft international drive to instill a “Growth Mindset” culture based on the core values of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It also links with Microsoft Egypt’s mission to empower every person and organization, of today and tomorrow, to optimize operations, increase customer engagement, transform business models and most importantly evolve the workforce towards a business growth paradigm founded on a culture of lifelong learning. Prior to being appointed as Microsoft Egypt GM in 2020, Arif held the position of Surface Business Group Director in Microsoft Middle East and Africa, heading the strategy for the latest device series in the region. From 2017 to 2019, prior to Joining Microsoft, Arif held the title of Regional Director for Digital Transformation at GE Oil & Gas where she directed the digital transformation strategy in North Africa and Turkey. Prior to that, she was the regional Manager for Rosemount Group Middle East at Emerson Automation Solutions. In 2015, Arif was appointed Assistant Minister for Investment and International Cooperation at the Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, advising on the development and implementation of the petroleum sector strategy. Preceding that, Arif spent the first 12 years of her career in Schlumberger, where she assumed various leadership roles, including Regional Sales Manager for UK & Ireland, Regional Sales Manager for the East African and East Mediterranean region, Egypt Manager for Schlumberger Information Solutions, and Global Marketing Manager, spearheading worldwide marketing strategies for the software and the marine acquisition segments. Outside of Microsoft, Mirna sits on the Board of Directors of Banque Misr, the Board of Directors of Misr Capital, the Board of Directors of Egypt Chamber of Information Technology, the Board of Trustees of Qualifications Development Bank (QDB), and the Supreme Advisory Board of Al Nas Hospital. Arif holds a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from the American University in Cairo Egypt, following her completion of a Bachelor of Science (BSC) degree in 2002 from the same university.
CEO and Founder Mumzworld.com
Mona Ataya, CEO and Founder of Mumzworld.com, has proven to be one of the Middle East’s most prominent and successful female entrepreneurs. She has a strong track record of not only building successful businesses but also shaping the changing landscape and disrupting the ecosystem. A transformational leader and a change agent in every sense of the word, Mona has managed to grow Mumzworld from a business plan on paper to a leading and enviable brand reaching more than 2.5 million mothers across the region since inception in 2011. Mumzworld has pioneered a revolutionary and gold standard e-commerce shopping experience for all things mother and child in the Middle East region. Today, Mumzworld prides itself with being the largest, trusted and definitive source for all things mother and child, with the widest range of products, an engaged sticky community and content, exclusive product offerings and delivery to over 20 different countries. Mumzworld has become the leading transactional and experiential e-commerce vertical play and a respected gateway into the Middle Eastern household. Under Mona’s leadership, Mumzworld has undergone tremendous growth and successfully established itself as the regional leader in this vertical space. With over 6 rounds of funding, renowned investors on board and a solid business plan, Mumzworld became #1 Funded Women-Led e-commerce Company in the Middle East and consequently the first regional, homegrown e-commerce company acquired by a Saudi, strategic giant. We expect to hear a lot from this brand in the years to come. Regional recognition: Mona has won more than 100 awards throughout her career. Most recently, she was voted as one of the top 75 Faces of the UAE by HSBC and 5 most Powerful Women Transforming the Business World in the Levant. She is voted among UAE’s Top 3 Most Prominent Women in the Tech World. She is amongst the top 2 Forbes women creating impact in the region, most recently featured in Forbes Middle East as one of Middle East’s Power Businesswomen in 2021, and was voted amongst the 100 most Powerful Arab Women, Forbes Top 10 Arab Women 2017, 2018, 2020; World's 100 Most Powerful Arabs - Generation Next - Arabian Business, 2019. She was also voted SME Executive of the year 3 years in a row and one of 30 Most Influential Women in the Arab World in 2019. Mumzworld.com has won The Business of The Year Award and Best Kids Online retailer in 2015, 2016 and 2018. Mumzworld.com was also awarded the Images Most Admired Online Retailer of the Year 2014 and 2016 as well as the “Customer Service Excellence Award” by The Customer Festival Awards 2018. Beyond the many awards she received, Mona plays an important role as an “Outlier” in the prestigious group of globally recognized Endeavor businesses’s and was the first woman selected into this network in the Middle East in 2014. Furthermore, she serves as a board member of the Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy (DCDE) and a representative of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) advocate for the region with a mandate to empower women and create enabling opportunities for women in the digital ecosystem. Mona serves year round as a mentor to entrepreneurs, passionate especially in enabling young female entrepreneurs.
Sara Al Binali
Group Head of Corporate and Commercial Banking
First Abu Dhabi Bank
Sara Al-Binali is the Group Head of Corporate, Commercial, and International Banking at First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the UAE’s largest bank, serving as a member of the executive committee. Sara has over 24 years of experience in financial services, investment, and banking. In her role at FAB, she is responsible for leading and growing the Corporate, Commercial, and International Banking division and for ensuring that it is aligned with the Group’s overall vision, strategy, and direction. Prior to this role, she served as the Head of Business Banking – responsible for driving the SME business for FAB. She also headed Strategic Planning for FAB and at First Gulf Bank (FGB) as it was known then, before FAB was created as a merged entity of FGB and the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD). Before this she was Deputy Head of FGB’s International Business Group. Sara started her career at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) working across several key investment management roles that were specifically focused on Far East Equities. She sits on number of boards including First Abu Dhabi Bank Securities, FAB Capital KSA, and Reem Finance. Sara graduated from Northwestern University in the United States with a degree in economics – and holds an Excellence and Awareness certification that she obtained at INSEAD’s Singapore campus.
CEO & Co-Founder
Emirates Skating Club
Zahra Lari was born March 3, 1995. She is the UAE and Mena region’s first international competitive figure skater and five time UAE National Champion. As well as being the first to do so while wearing the hijab. While she began skating at the late age of 12 years old, Zahra has beaten the odds and has achieved the highest level in spins, technique and triple jumps. She has accomplished this by dedication, passion and intensive training. She averages four hours a day and six days a week of training both on ice and off-ice.
Senior Presenter / Producer
Forbes Middle East
Ramia is a Senior Producer and Presenter at Forbes Middle East, as well as a Moderator with a long history of hosting a variety of public and private sector events. At Forbes, Ramia hosts the Daily Brief, an online twice daily show focusing on breaking business news. She also conducts interviews with international business and world leaders. From its launch in 2007 until 2021, Ramia led the Emirates News broadcast on Dubai One TV as the Presenter and News Bulletin Editor. Previous to her role at Emirates News, from 2002 to 2007, Ramia presented and produced the program Business Arabia, which aired internationally on CNBC. Ramia has interviewed several world leaders including General Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan, Mohammed Khatami, President of Iran, Gerhard Schroeder, Chancellor of Germany and Jimmy Carter, US President. She is a moderator at major events including the World Government Summit in Dubai, the Middle East Investment Forum, and the Forbes 30/50 Summit, to name a few. Ramia holds a MA in Global Diplomacy-International Relations from the University of London, SOAS, as well as a BA in Communications from the University of Winnipeg and an associate degree in Journalism from Red River College.
Dr. Saeeda Jaffar
Senior Vice President & Group Country Manager – GCC
Dr. Saeeda Jaffar is the Senior Vice President & Group Country Manager – GCC, Visa. Prior to joining Visa, Dr Jaffar was the Managing Director at Alvarez & Marsal ME, the world’s leading turnaround and restructuring firm. Dr Jaffar has also held leadership positions at McKinsey & Company as well as Bain & Company, serving clients across the U.S., Europe and the GCC. Over her 20 years of professional career, Dr Jaffar has worked in the Middle East, Europe, and the U.S. on a wide range of strategic, M&A and performance-related issues with clients across a range of industries, while specializing in financial services including universal banks, private banks, investment banks, private equity firms, sovereign wealth funds, government institutions and family-owned businesses. Dr. Jaffar is an Emirati national and earned a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Boston University, where she was the valedictorian. She earned a master's degree and a doctorate in chemical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT.)
Group Country Manager and Senior Vice President for NALP
Leila Serhan is the Group Country Manager and Senior Vice President for NALP. Ms. Serhan brings more than two decades experience of leadership positions, including 20 years gained at Microsoft. Ms. Serhan most recently led Microsoft’s public sector business across the Gulf region, and previously served as General Manager for its operations across North Africa, East Mediterranean, and Pakistan. She previously held roles spanning country management, finance and marketing and has driven public and private sector digital transformation initiatives in finance, government and education. Ms. Serhan is a strong advocate for women’s empowerment, founding and currently serving as President for the Women in IT Association in Lebanon.
10:00 – 10:10 am
Welcome & Opening Remarks by Forbes ME
Khuloud Al Omian, CEO, Forbes Middle East
10:10 – 10:25 am
Keynote: 7 Lessons on Success from a Woman Entrepreneurs in the Middle East
A powerful keynote from an influential woman from the ME to discuss how she overcame challenges and stereotypes to become a role model and a successful business leader.
Ambareen Musa, CEO, Souqalmal.com
10:25 – 10:35 am
Open mic: Winners flash talk and presentations: UAE
Fireside chat | A Roadmap to Greatness – How to Develop a Strategy for Your Business
Successful women entrepreneurs define a business goal and develop a viable market strategy as part of the planning process. Join this discussion to learn how to build a lucrative business and assess opportunities as well as threats involved to be profitable in a dynamic consumer market.
Madiha Sattar, Vice President, Careem Pay
Mona Ataya, Founder/CEO, Mumzworld
Karen Wazen, Owner, Karen Wazen
Moderator: Dr. Saeeda Jaffar, Senior Vice President & Group Country Manager – GCC, Visa
11:05– 11:15 am
Open mic: Winners flash talk and presentations: Morocco
11:15 – 11:45 am
Panel Session: Are There Certain Traits That Women Need To Have To Be Successful?
Women lead differently than men; qualities such as being holistic, collaborative, inclusive, and consultative are strengths that is required to succeed in a global economy. Let’s examine the traits women need to possess for their business to not only capitalize on today’s climate of disruption, but also be the disruptors themselves.
Azza Fahmy, Chairwoman & Creative Director, Azza Fahmy Jewellery
Asmae Hajjami, CEO, Societe General Maroc
Mirna Arif, General Manager-Egypt, Microsoft
Hany El-Dieb, Head of Business Banking Segments and Products & Credit Relations Management, CIB
Moderator: Leila Serhan , Group Country Manager, NALP, Visa
11:45 – 11:55 am
Open mic: Winners flash talk and presentations: KSA
11:55 – 12:15 am
Fireside Chat: The Rising Phoenix – Tackling Cyberbullies in A Connected and Reactive Digital World
A fireside chat with a fiery influencer to highlight the issues faced by individuals & businesses in the cyber world. We will explore the paths one must avoid and the measures that should be taken to tackle cyberbullying.
Zahra Lari, Business Development Manager,Emirates Skating Club
Moderator: Ramia Farrage ,Presenter, Forbes Middle East
12:15 – 12: 25 pm
Open mic: Winners flash talk and presentations: Egypt
12:25 – 1:05 pm
Enabling Access to Peer Networks and Capital
Join us as we discuss approaches to facilitate new peer networks and social capital. The challenges and chances one has to form a peer network, which in turn aids in developing resilience and the capacity to constructively respond to risk or adversity.
Nadine Halabi, Business Development Manager, Dubai Business Women Council
Leslie Reed, Mission Director, USAID-Egypt
Sara Al Binali, Group head of Corporate & Commercial Banking, First AbuDhabi Bank
Elissa Freiha, Founder and CEO, Womena
Moderator: Ramia Farrage , Presenter, Forbes Middle East
1:05 – 1:15 pm
Closing Remarks by Forbes
Khuloud Al Omian, CEO, Forbes Middle East
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About Forbes Middle East
Forbes Middle East is a licensee of Forbes Media and extends the Forbes brand of journalism across the Arab world. Forbes Middle East’s distinctive editorial style attracts a readership of Arab leaders, entrepreneurs, C-level executives, government officials and investors united by a belief in the spirit of free enterprise and entrepreneurial values.Across the region, Forbes Middle East sets the pace for preemptive business journalism. By uncovering trends and anticipating opportunities in the regional marketplace, each monthly issue brings top executives the information critical to their success – in both Arabic and English language editions. The magazine researches and publishes original rankings, based on methodologies set by Forbes Media.
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