Fourth UAE edition of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs concludes

Fourth UAE edition of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs concludes

startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based global accelerator powered by Tamkeen and anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), along with the United States Mission to the UAE, held a closing ceremony to mark the completion of the fourth edition of the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) UAE program.

The ceremony was attended by the United States Ambassador to the UAE Martina Strong. The event also served as a pitch day, providing a multisensory experience for ecosystem partners to directly engage with the products and services offered by the participating businesses. Over the last four years, AWE UAE businesses have become an integral part of the local economy, cumulatively generating USD 42 million in revenue, raising USD 9.2 million in funding, and creating 524 jobs.

With the UAE’s SME sector accounting for around 63.5 percent of the UAE’s non-oil economy, and nearly half of these businesses being owned by women, AWE recognizes the potential impact women entrepreneurs can create on the UAE economy. The program combines interactive workshops and training sessions, personalized mentorship, and networking opportunities. It equips female founders with the knowledge, tools, and network to scale.

Marking a four-year partnership between the United States Mission to the UAE and startAD, this year’s cohort featured the following 12 UAE businesses:

  • Bookends: An online platform in which customers can buy a variety of affordable second-hand books or sell their pre-loved ones.
  • IZI Health: An integrative preventive care platform that offers high-end technological solutions to doctor’s consultations, healthy meal planning, fitness training, and holistic medicine.
  • Baby Spa: Dubai’s first baby spa offering a selection of treatments for babies to promote physical and cognitive stimulation.
  • Hooked: A seafood restaurant focusing on fresh and quality catch with a thriving community of international foodies and tasters.
  • Zahra’s Kitchen: A home-grown food concept offering responsibly sourced, homemade food without additives or preservatives.
  • Winifred Mills: A Dubai-based fashion house and website that offers ladies fashion and custom tailoring services.
  • Vanilla Rose: A cafe offering specialty coffee, delicious desserts, and customized flowers.
  • High Street Resources: An executive talent company offering professional executive search and HR consulting services.
  • INSTAGLAM: An online mobile application for on-demand beauty services offering a directory of beauty professionals.
  • DYStinct Learners: A center dedicated to helping children overcome learning differences through online tutoring, dyslexia therapy, and dyscalculia therapy.
  • Creams Desserts: A dessert shop offering handcrafted desserts inspired by the Emirati landscape, scents, and flavors.
  • YALA Kombucha: A cafe offering Kombucha, a natural draft soda based on tea, herbs and dried berries and fruit.

Daleya Uddin, Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Dubai said: “We are proud to continue our partnership with NYU Abu Dhabi, startAD, and Tamkeen to bring the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs to the UAE. AWE is the State Department’s flagship women’s economic empowerment program, which has helped over 25,000 women entrepreneurs in 120 countries. Seventy four percent of AWE graduates globally reported higher incomes and 29 percent reported hiring additional staff after completing the program, reflecting AWE’s positive impact on local economies. More than 90 percent of all graduates reported increased confidence and higher self-esteem, citing improvements in specific skill sets like independent decision-making, strategic planning, and public speaking — skills that have helped women lead businesses, build resilience, and better adapt to economic cycles. Our cohorts of AWE in UAE thus far helped grow 41 female-led small and medium enterprises – which generated $42 millions in revenues, raised funding, and created jobs opportunities. We are confident our alumni will continue to achieve outstanding results.”

“Building on the success of our AWE in UAE cohorts and our first cohort of Women Innovators Fellows — implemented in partnership with the Atlantic Council and Georgetown University McDonough Business School — we are proud to announce that the U.S. Mission to the UAE will be hosting the first State Department MENA region Women’s Economic Empowerment (WE Empower) Summit — under the leadership of the U.S. Ambassador to the UAE Martina Strong on September 17-19. The WE Empower Summit will bring together high-level policy makers, over 150 female founders/alumni of U.S. government women’s economic empowerment initiatives in the region, academia, industry leaders, and media to discuss strategies to promote women’s economic empowerment and showcase existing, impactful entrepreneurship and exchange programs.”

Senior Associate Director of startAD Hana Barakat said: “We are proud to have concluded the fourth edition of the AWE program in partnership with the US Mission to the UAE, providing support to promising female-led local businesses and further contributing to the UAE economy. The program supports our aim to help build a robust, competitive knowledge-based economy in the UAE, one that thrives on innovation and new concepts.

The US State Department established AWE as an exchange program in 2019 to empower women with the knowledge, networks, and access they need to launch or scale successful businesses.  Implemented in nearly 100 countries since 2019, AWE has empowered an estimated 25,000 women entrepreneurs around the world with the skills they need to reach their full economic potential.


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