Tamakkan’s entrepreneurship seminar stressed the important role of women businesses in helping to fuel the growth of Arab economies, and for women business owners to become better prepared risk takers, and bolder leaders.
The seminar explored the potential of women in the workforce and the multiplier effects to society, through four women entrepreneurs: the Managing Partner of True Evolution, Briton Jane Samson who spoke about “Innovation in business;” the founder of Nabbesh, Lebanese LoulouKhazan, who spoke about her online skills marketplace for the Middle East; American Theresa Webber, co-founder of Alexandria Consulting Team (ACT) who presented the exciting debate on women’s professional empowerment through emerging trends in mompreneurship and the arguments presented by Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In”.
The seminar also featured 17 year old Emirati Latifa Al Hamed who has a small side business wherein she paints on Toms shoes and sells them to a loyal following of young customers. As part of Tamakkan support for artistic expression, the seminar also featured two locally based poets Ethar Al Tinay, from Sudan and Charlis Cunningham, from the US, and Somali stand-up comedian, Abdulrazak.
Tamakkan founder Sana Bagersh alluded to phenomenon of the “Third Billion” or the one billion women potentially joining the global workforce in a decade, and the World Bank’s estimates that the potential of female employment rates, it they were to match male rates, increasing global GDP; including a hike of 5 percent in the US, 9 percent in Japan and 34 percent in Egypt.
Khazan said that Nabbesh leverages technology to tear down geographical barriers. “Nabbesh aims to respond to the region’s chronic lack of by creating a marketplace that matches skill with opportunity, and especially makes it easier for women who want to work from home. The site is a great solution for skilled home based women in the region to find work opportunities… imagine, 17% of women in Saudi Arabia participate in the labor force while 83% of women are basically sitting at home because of culture and lifestyle or other values”.
Webber stated that women make great leaders because of their intuitive skills in multi-tasking, asking questions, putting people at ease, communicating, and building relationships. “But the problem is that women tend to avoid new challenges; they worry too much about whether they have the skills to take on a new role. Women should be more open to taking career risks,” she said.
Samson explained that the UAE and the Gulf region attracts professionals from all over the world who bring their own ideas about leadership. “Effective leaders are able to bring all these people together. In the Middle East, it’s all about relationships and it’s all about trust,” she said.
Bagersh stressed the compelling argument in support of women’s entrepreneurship. “According the report by Quantum Leaps, The Roadmap to 2020, the potential of women-owned firms is comparable to the discovery of ‘an entirely new technology or the birth of an industry’. Women businesses can create trillions of dollars to the global economy.”
“And if that’s not enough think of the undeniable multiplier effect: the GEM Report states that returns to the investment are much higher in women than for men, with women more likely to share their gains in education, health, and resources – not just with members of their families but also their communities at large,” she added.