MasterCard and Dubai Business Women Council Announce Collaboration to Further Women Entrepreneurship

MasterCard and the Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC) part of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, announced a collaboration to drive entrepreneurship among women in the Emirate. The collaboration builds on the efforts of both organizations to mobilize and encourage women to participate in the economic sector by realizing their entrepreneurial ventures.

The long term agreement was formalized at a recently held meeting between Mrs. Raja Easa Al Gurg, President, Dubai Business Women Council, and Mrs. Ann Cairns, President, International Markets, MasterCard, at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry premises.

Under the landmark collaboration, MasterCard and DBWC will organise an annual event where aspiring women entrepreneurs will present their business proposals to a panel of judges and the winners will be mentored and guided by MasterCard to implement their business models. The screening process for this event will commence during Q1 2014.

“Since 2002, the Council has been providing business women in the country with opportunities to develop and enhance their business enterprises. Women in the UAE are playing an increasingly important role in driving the economy, and we have taken it upon ourselves to support these entrepreneurs in their undertakings. By joining hands with MasterCard, we can now offer the much needed support to our members and ensure that even more women get the opportunity to participate in and contribute to the UAE’s booming economy,” said Mrs. Raja Easa Al Gurg.

In the Middle East and North Africa, small and medium enterprises comprise the most substantive part of the economy; around 95 percent of the private sector is owned by SMEs, according to the findings of the Carnegie Endowment Centre. However, only 2.5 percent of this total is women-owned “formal” SMEs. When one compares this figure with the findings of the International Finance Corporation that state that approximately 37% of enterprises are owned by women globally, there are still significant inroads to be made in the region.

“Across the globe, MasterCard has been working with our partners to empower women, as disparities and obstacles to equal opportunities still exist in both the developed and emerging markets. Encouraging women to participate in their local communities is not only a social cause, but has tremendous economic implications for these markets. The Dubai Business Women Council has significantly advanced the cause for more than 10 years, and we are eager to work with them to ensure that women across the UAE and the wider region have the opportunity to develop their skills and pursue their dreams,” said Ann Cairns.

MasterCard has been focusing on female empowerment for a number of years. The MasterCard Index of Women’s Advancement is part of a sustained effort by MasterCard to measure the socioeconomic standing of women across Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa. The Index, which measures the socioeconomic level of women in relation to men, has shown that while more women have access to tertiary education and job opportunities, there is still room for improvement, especially when it comes to women owning their own businesses and taking up positions as business and government leaders in the region.