SME Congress & Expo Abu Dhabi day 3 dedicated to the rise of women in business

SME Congress & Expo Abu Dhabi day 3 dedicated to the rise of women in business

17.12.2013: Middle East Women embark on corporate journey photo caption: A force for growth: Day 3 (December 18) of

Middle East Women embark on corporate journey




photo caption:  A force for growth: Day 3 (December 18) of the SME Congress & Expo is dedicated to women in business across the Middle East.



The number of female entrepreneurs in the UAE is expected to grow significantly, however according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), men are currently 2.8 times more likely to start-up a business than women.


With Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) accounting for 60 per cent of Dubai’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Booz & Company’s Empowering the Third Billion report shows that closing the gender gap in the UAE labour market by just half could increase the annual GDP growth rate by seven per cent.


The SME Congress & Expo, which opened yesterday (16 December) at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), has dedicated an entire day to Women in Business on 18 December.  Speakers will address the challenges that face female business owners and offer solutions to help women entrepreneurs bridge the gender gap in the economy.


Mona Tavassoli, Founder and Director of Mom Souq and Mompreneurs Middle East, will share international examples of “momentrepreneurs”; mothers who have turned their businesses into million dollar enterprises. With over 100 mompreneurs registered on their website, Ms. Tavassoli will offer an exclusive insight into the economic power of “Mompreneurship”. 


 “I would like to change the common perception of mom entrepreneurs, that is someone who is making something at home as a hobby, without any plans or vision to turn their passion into a successful business,” Tavassoli said.  “We need to recognise the importance of their initiatives in the economy and the potential that these start-up businesses have, which can benefit not only their founders' families but society as a whole. 


“It is vital we understand the differences between the way women and men think, so that we can ensure they can work together harmoniously and effectively,” she added.


Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassemi, CEO of Al Qassemi Al Thani Holdings in Qatar, will kick start the day with a talk on Girl Power in the GCC, looking at the rise of women in business.


Lucy D’Abo, who  is one of the four panellists offering their advice to SME business owners and entrepreneurs on how to succeed in a male-dominant environment, said she is thrilled to be involved in the event.


“It is truly encouraging to see that the SME sector is increasingly being recognised for the role that it plays in developing local economies,” The Managing Partner of Dabo and Co, UAE, said.


“As an entrepreneur that has lived in the UAE for 30 years, I am excited about the growth in this region and want to be part of its ongoing support for women in the workplace.  Women of the last century have had to fight for their right to be heard. I believe that this custom still continues now with women having to work harder and smarter to earn trust and prove their competence in business to be recognized in the boardroom,” she added.


Although Emirati women on average work 5.6 hours per week more than men (Booz & Company), only 8.6 percent of the UAE’s millionaires are female (WealthInsight Intelligence Center).  However, global trends show that the tide is turning and now over a third of all global firms have women owners, according to International Financial Corporation (IFC).


The inaugural SME Congress & Expo offers SME business owners and entrepreneurs an opportunity to learn from experts, network with colleagues and suppliers and find out how best to develop their businesses.


A highlight this year at the three-day show is the Pitch for Investment competition, a unique platform where a shortlist of 10 entrepreneurs and business people present their ideas and current businesses to a panel of experts, with the winner to be announced tomorrow.


Free-to-attend training workshops are also on offer. Featuring speakers from Etisalat, Etihad Airways, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Microsoft, and Google Business Group, the workshops are aimed at equipping business-minded individuals with the vital skills needed to set up and successfully operate their own enterprise.


The powerful new platform takes place with the support of Strategic ICT Partner Etisalat, an organisation at the forefront of developing and delivering relevant innovative services and solutions to the small and medium segment in UAE for many years, enabling businesses to begin operations and grow their existing setup in the UAE as well as connecting them internationally.


Official Carrier for the event is Etihad Airways, while Event Partners include Nexus and the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Sky News Arabia is Official News Broadcaster and Bayt.com Strategic Career Partner. 


Organised by Informa Exhibitions, the SME Congress & Expo is held in strategic partnership with the Abu Dhabi Department for Economic Development, the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, and Dubai Internet City.


The exhibition, training workshops and Pitch for Investment competition are free for all to attend and the event is open tomorrow from 11am – 7pm. More information about SME Congress & Expo is available at www.smemiddleeast.com or www.facebook.com/smemiddleeast.


- Gareth Wright, Total Communications Dubai -  also photo

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17.12.2013 / MaP

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