Women Entrepreneurs in MENA: Successes, Challenges and Policies

Chicago Booth UAE Alumni Club in Dubai and Booz & Company’s Ideation Center set out to empower the Third Billion in the Club’s Annual Middle East conference. With a staggering 1 billion women expected to enter the global economy in the coming decade, the conference ‒ entitled ‘Women Entrepreneurs in MENA: Successes, Challenges and Policies’ ‒ aims to provide insight into this group’s potential and challenges in the region.

Conference Details

The Chicago Booth UAE Alumni Club is hosting their Annual Middle East Conference on 16 January 2013 at Dubai’s Ritz-Carlton DIFC. The event ‒ entitled ‘Women Entrepreneurs in MENA: Successes, Challenges and Policies’ ‒ is organized in collaboration with the Ideation Center, Booz & Company's signature Middle East think tank.

Beginning at 3:00pm, the conference will comprise three discussion panels entitled Research on Women Entrepreneurs; Success Stories; and Policies for Women Entrepreneurs.

Top Level Speakers

The event will see attendance by a number of prominent experts on entrepreneurship in the MENA region, and feature highly-acclaimed entrepreneurs and pioneers of the female economic empowerment. Keynote addresses will be given by a slew of industry leaders, including Dr. Karim Sabbagh, Senior Vice President at Booz & Company, Dr. Nasser Saidi, Former Chief Economist of DIFCA and former Executive Director of Hawkamah Institute, Dr. Leila Hoteit, Principal at Booz & Company and Nadereh Chamlou, Senior Advisor MENA at the World Bank.

Goal of the Conference

“The conference aims to highlight key findings of international and regional research on women entrepreneurship; discuss some first-hand experiences of pioneering female entrepreneurs in MENA; and, address current gaps in policy and execution and suggest key steps in defining the way forward to empower women entrepreneurs in the MENA region,” said Dr. Sabbagh.

Why This Conference Topic

Indeed, today, according to the Ideation Center’s landmark publication The Third Billion, women are among the fastest-growing groups of entrepreneurs in a number of countries. However, despite enormous economic contributions and real success stories, female entrepreneurship remains under-explored and inadequately covered in the MENA region due to cultural norms, barriers of doing business, and relatively low participation of women in entrepreneurial activity. Thus, MENA economies need to understand the challenges specific to women’s entrepreneurship, provide a more enabling business environment, and promote entrepreneurship with a particular focus on eliminating gender-specific barriers through policy instruments that are effective in raising entrepreneurship rates among women.

Chicago Booth Alumni in UAE

The conference is one of several initiatives organized each year by Booth UAE Alumni Club advocating the interests of its members and the university, providing continuing educational opportunities, promoting the exchange of ideas between club members and the community and encouraging the development of a strong and diverse association of MENA-area alumni. According to Mark Corusy, President of the Booth UAE Alumni Club, “We are most grateful for the support of the Ideation Center as well as all the other conference sponsors to enhance awareness of this critical topic and guide the club’s longer term mission and social responsibility efforts focused on entrepreneurship and education.” Everyone is welcome to attend and may register through boothuaeconference.eventbrite.com.