On the 26th of August 2020, the founder of Womenpreneur-initiative, Sana Afouaiz was interviewed by Lucia Conti for the Egyptian Street Magazine. You can find the complete interview here.
The conversation walks us through Sana Afouaiz’s journey and her fight for gender equality by exposing the many faces of discrimination faced by women in the region and by amplifying local women’s voices. She also discussed various perceptions surrounding women traditionally held by MENA (Middle East and Northern Africa) societies and ways in which it can be progressively reframed.
Female Entrepreneurship in the MENA Region
The challenges faced by women in the MENA region are barriers to successful entrepreneurship. Currently, there are countries that legally require female entrepreneurs to request permission from their husbands or male relatives prior to accessing banking services. Sana emphasises that one of the most important problems is the lack of access to microfinance initiatives for women, which is compounded upon by local social stigmas sustaining gender inequality within the region.
Despite rising numbers of female STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates in the MENA Region, Sana reminds us of the reality where many women remain invisible, they do not stand in, let alone lead the frontlines. Although positive change is happening, conservative perspectives still greatly hinder women in STEM fields, and more broadly speaking, women empowerment within the region.
About Womenpreneur Initiative’s Mission:
Our overarching aim is to advance women’s roles in the entrepreneurial scene, technology, innovation and society. We have launched a number of initiatives promoting equal gender participation in entrepreneurial and tech sectors, with a specific focus on counteracting the effects the COVID-19 pandemic has on our cause. Since our establishment in 2016, we have continuously supported more than 13.000 women in 20 countries and have implemented more than 30 international projects. Ambitions to expand that base are constantly developing.
In 2019, we launched our first Womenpreneur Tour. The project maps out local female talent in technology, innovation and entrepreneurial sectors within the MENA region to facilitate quality investment in women and girls. For instance, in the form of promoting financial and social capital, access to resources, mentorship programmes and advocacy campaigns.
After the tour, Womenpreneur-Initiative launched a survey in 2020 to analyse the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on female-led businesses in the MENA region. The results will be published in a policy paper and used to develop tailored programs to help fulfil the professional needs of female entrepreneurs within the region. In the meantime, you can check our blog post on it here.
The survey is still open! If you are a female MENA-based entrepreneur, click here to partake in it.
Our latest project was the successful launch of our Womenpreneur Digital Hub. The hub is the first virtual space whereby MENA-based women can learn, connect and grow. We aim to ensure that every woman and girl in the MENA region can access the tools and develop the skills required to realise their fullest economic potential. The hub gives users free access to a diverse community of experts, mentors and peers to share tips and collaborate, as well as various opportunities. For example: job vacancies, scholarships, online courses, competitions, workshops, and so on.
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