The Sharjah-Europe Businesswomen Forum concluded at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) headquarters on Tuesday, bringing together an elite group of high-profile CEOs, experts, entrepreneurs, and renowned speakers to encourage women to start their own businesses, promote an entrepreneurial culture, and increase women's contributions to the national economy.
Held under the theme “Women's Entrepreneurship: Be one of them", the event was organized by the SCCI in cooperation with the European Women’s Association (EWA).
During the event, HE Waleed Abdul Rahman Bukhatir, Second Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, SCCI, greeted everyone in attendance to the forum which is one of the key outcomes of the recently signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Sharjah Chamber and the EWA.
“Through today's event, we hope to provide Emirati and European entrepreneurs with a platform that inspires them to start their own businesses, fosters entrepreneurial culture, and increases women's contributions to the national economy,” he said.
He stated that women's empowerment has always been a vital component of the country's development vision and plans, and they have been an indispensable partner in propelling the national economy, as evidenced by the UAE ranking first in global competitiveness indexes and international surveys in the region.
“We, at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, reaffirm our commitment to providing all forms of support to businesswomen and entrepreneurs in order to cement their entrepreneurial journey, by launching various programs and initiatives designed to promote their participation in commercial and economic businesses and to create a positive and impactful environment in which they can achieve their business goals,” he maintained.
Speaking at the gathering, HE Farida Abdulla Kamber Al Awadhi, Chairperson and President of UAE Emirates Business Women Council (EBWC), expressed her delight at being there amongst women entrepreneurs and those who came to offer their support at the occasion.
She said that the empowerment of women was the vision of the country’s founding father, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. She also stated that the UAE is a land of opportunities, welcoming people of all nationalities.
“Today UAE has the highest number of women in Forbes most powerful Arab women, with over 23 Emirati women on the list,” she added.
Al Awadhi praised the SCCI for organizing the forum and for its support of the UAE Emirates Business Women Council, inviting everyone in attendance to join and help further encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in women.
In her address, HE Yulia Stark, President of the European Women's Association, said that she was amazed at witnessing the UAE’s potential for women's empowerment when she first arrived in the country.
She highlighted that there was already so much being done for women in the UAE that Europeans could learn from, and she could anticipate the success EWA would achieve in the country.
Stark maintained that the vision of the EWA is to continue working for the advancement of women in all aspects of life and to continue garnering support of prestigious organizations such as the SCCI.
HE Mariam Bin Al Shaikh, Acting Manager of, Sharjah Business Women Council (SWBC), also welcomed the forum delegates to the Emirate of Sharjah during her keynote speech.
She noted that Sharjah has been recognized as an incubator for female entrepreneurship, with a conducive environment for businesswomen to develop and grow. She attributed the Emirate's success to its remarkable diversity, saying that the SWBC's top priority is to further harness the potential of women entrepreneurs in Sharjah.
Al Shaikh also commended the SCCI's efforts and urged everyone to work together to inspire women entrepreneurs in the UAE and around the world, shedding more light on Sharjah's most important economic components, its distinctive investment opportunities, and the emirate's competitive climate for businesswomen and developing enterprises looking to expand their operations in regional markets from Sharjah.
The first panel discussion, titled "Mapping Sharjah's Startup Ecosystem," featured Salamah Al Shamsi, Business Development Executive at Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park, Lurdes Eusebio, CEO of The First International Business, and Sophie Smith, Founder and CEO of Nabta Health, and was moderated by Mihaela Tudor, CEO of 2VALUE.
Following the panel discussion, Mihaela Tudor led a session for female entrepreneurs to pitch their businesses to investors. Various start-ups, including Palmade, Welcome to the World, Baytuki, 2VALUE, and Kyma, presented their ideas to the investors in attendance throughout these sessions.
The forum also included a “Firechat” in which participants submitted their inquiries to experts in the field. The discussion was moderated by Sally Mousa and featured HE Dr Nairouz Bader, CEO of Envision Partnership, HE Mohamed Hilal AlHazami, CEO of Mohamed Hilal Group and HE Lalu Samuel, Chairman of Kingston Holding.
The event also featured several workshops, the first of which focused on innovative ways to pitch to investors by HE Adnan Al Noorani, Chairman of The Private Office and Group of Companies of Sheikh Saqer bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, the second on how to network like a pro led by HE Yulia Stark, President of the EWA, and the third on speed networking by HE Hiba Al Marzouqi, Head of the Business Councils and Joint Committees Section, SCCI. In addition, the EWA President also delivered a public speaking workshop on how to speak with impact.
By opening communication channels with European women's business communities and discovering new horizons of joint work, the forum provided Emirati businesswomen with an ideal platform to meet with their European counterparts, share expertise, and learn about the best practices for establishing, managing, and developing businesses.
The conference also examined the UAE's experience with empowering and supporting Emirati women, who hold prominent roles in a variety of critical industries, including business.