Visa announces the winners of its She’s Next grant program for the UAE


Visa has announced the winners of its She’s Next grant program for the UAE at an award ceremony in partnership with First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) and Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC). Under the initiative, five UAE women-led businesses received a US$10,000 grant and one year of business coaching from IFundWomen to help their businesses grow and expand, as well as media exposure and networking opportunities.

The five winners were selected from more than 90 applications submitted by UAE women entrepreneurs from a wide range of sectors, from textiles to education, food and beverage to professional services, beauty and wellness. Winners were selected based on the evolution of their entrepreneurial journey, the strength of their business metrics, their digital presence and their problem-solving skills.

The jury consisted of Salima Gutieva, Visa’s Country Manager for UAE, Ganes RK, Visa’s Head of Business Solutions for MENA, Nadine Halabi, Business Development Manager of DBWC, Sara Al Binali, Group Head of Corporate, Commercial and International Banking at FAB, Salil Ahuja, Head of CVP & Portfolio for Commercial Banking at FAB and Khuloud Al Omian, Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Middle East and CEO of Arab Publisher House.

By participating in the program, all women entrepreneurs gained access to practical insights from female leaders in the public and private sectors, as well as valuable tools and educational resources – including Visa’s Practical Business Skills program – they need to grow and develop their businesses.

“In a world where businesses in general are struggling with the lingering effects of the pandemic and inflation, women-owned small businesses continue to prove their resilience and show great optimism about the future of their businesses,” said Dr Saeeda Jaffar, Senior Vice President & Group Country Manager – GCC, Visa. “Visa recognizes these women entrepreneurs, their dedication and continued contributions to our communities, and is proud to support and spotlight them through our She’s Next initiative, which we are pleased to have brought to UAE for the first time. These women have not only broken many stereotypes about the type of businesses women run but have also clearly demonstrated their ability to grow and scale. We would like to congratulate the five recipients and look forward to supporting them through these grants and the mentorship program so they can continue to work and thrive in these uncertain times.”

1. Hafsa Qadeer, ImInclusive: An end-to-end platform connecting People of Determination to inclusive jobs and empowering employers to embrace inclusion.
2. Mirna Hamad, Kashida Design: Acclaimed design studio, Kashida, creates luxurious home décor in beautiful Arabic calligraphy that adds a Middle Eastern touch to contemporary pieces.
3. Viktorija Aksionova, Mindtales: A start-up with the mission to transform the region’s workplace wellness landscape by making digital wellness support accessible, convenient and inclusive.
4. Sukriti Verma & Namrata Budhraja, Shift Eco: A platform that helps you shift to an eco-friendly lifestyle by giving you access to vetted and curated organic products for your home and personal care routines.
5. Lara Hussein & Ceylan Uren, Waste Lab’s: An impact-driven, and data-led startup in the UAE that is working with households and businesses to reduce food waste through nature-based solutions and to build soil.

ImInclusive and Waste Lab’s will also go on to participate in a virtual event, “She’s next: Spotlighting Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East,” organized by Forbes Middle East and Visa. The event will feature female business leaders from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco, who will share their strategies for promoting gender equality and women empowerment.

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