As part of the MENA’s angel investing and entrepreneurial community, Womena believes that Emirati women have an important role to play as entrepreneurs and investors. Accordingly, Dubai SME, the agency of Dubai Economy mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, and Womena have jointly launched the ‘Future Founders and Future Funders Programme’ which targets university-level Emirati women who are at the start of their careers. The objective is to develop a strong pipeline of Emirati women to be investors and entrepreneurs that will support the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Mr. Saeed Matar Al Marri, Deputy CEO of Dubai SME, commented: “Entrepreneurship has a crucial role in women empowerment and Dubai SME is seeing a remarkable increase in entrepreneurial initiatives from women. To promote entrepreneurial talent and energize entrepreneurship Dubai SME is focusing on bridging gaps, particularly in terms of knowledge and funding. Our partnership with Womena marks an important step that will enable women, entrepreneurs and investors, to deploy their resources on successful and sustainable initiatives.”
The program was launched in fall 2017 at the Women’s College of Zayed University, Dubai, and targeted women who were considering a career in finance or were interested in entrepreneurship. Over four weeks, the course ran two tracks; ‘Future Founders’ focused on enabling students to create a robust and innovative business. ‘Future Funders’ introduced finance students to venture investing, and enabled students to gain the skills needed to invest in startups or work with a VC firm.
Future Founders and Future Funders Demo Day
At the end of the program, a final demo day was held, during which time the ‘Future Founder’ students pitched their business ideas to the ‘Future Funder’ graduates, who employed the skills they had learned to evaluate the businesses from an investor’s perspective. Winners among both groups were selected from a panel of judges from Dubai SME.
The winners of the pitch competition received support from Dubai SME that will assist them in launching their businesses, including free membership at the Hamdan Innovation Incubator, enrollment in the Entrepreneurship Diploma program, and access to other Dubai SME services. First place winner Alia Al Ali pitched her idea for a company 3zeema that will revolutionize traditional event planning for Emiratis. She is excited about beginning her journey as an entrepreneur with the resources offered by Dubai SME.
“Womena [and Dubai SME] came to us with an opportunity to teach us how to become future founders and entrepreneurs and I thank them for this opportunity. I hope they will help others and know that they will,” said Alia.
High-performing ‘Future Funder’ students were offered internships in angel groups and investment funds to enable them to begin to build their careers in venture finance.
“After being involved in this Womena workshop, I realized that women are the fuel of the UAE and that the UAE is helping women to empower themselves through companies like Womena,” said Shaima, a Future Funders student at Zayed University who won third place and will be interning with Womena in the spring.
Paul Williams, Dean of Zayed University commented, “An entrepreneurial mindset is at the core of our educational mission. Not only do our students develop skills and competencies in entrepreneurship from their academic studies, some of them put it into practice and become successful business owners. In addition, our faculty are actively conducting applied research into entrepreneurship, which is helping the UAE community to implement innovative and creative solutions to real-world small business problems.”
The Future is Female
Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena commented, “Womena is dedicated to empowering women in the Middle East, from investing in female entrepreneurs to helping the investors themselves. We also understand the importance of sparking excitement and curiosity from a much earlier stage in their professional development. In Zayed University students, we see the future of entrepreneurship, and this future is female! We look forward to continuing to work with these young women as they become successful investors and entrepreneurs.”
If you are interested to learn more about the Future Funders and Future Founders program, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.