Dubai launches 'She Leads' programme to back women-led start-ups

Creative Zone and Dubai Business Women Council partner on new incubator and accelerator programme to train female entrepreneurs

Creative Zone and the Dubai Business Women Council Launch Ambitious Program 'She Leads' to Accelerate and Incubate 100 Women-Led Startups From The UAE.
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Dubai is starting the “She Leads” programme, an incubator and accelerator intended to help develop UAE start-ups that are led by women.

Business set-up consultancy Creative Zone and the Dubai Business Women Council partnered on the new project that will select 100 female entrepreneurs for a 10-week intensive training programme that will be held online, the Dubai Chamber said on Wednesday.

Nadine Halabi, business development manager of the Dubai Business Women Council, said the programme was intended to level the playing field by providing women with an equal opportunity to develop their skills and connect them to prospects and resources.

“Despite the rapid increase in the number of women-owned [companies] in recent years, women still face significant barriers to growth,” Ms Halabi said.

The small and medium-sized enterprise segment accounts for about 40 per cent of the UAE’s total gross domestic product, making it a vital sector for economic growth.

The International Monetary Fund said in July that the Covid-19 pandemic had a “disproportionate” effect on women around the world and threatened to set back their economic empowerment and widen existing gender disparities.

The Washington lender urged policymakers to adopt measures that would limit the pandemic’s “scarring effects” on women and remove legal barriers to their empowerment.

Gender disparities in entrepreneurship continue to “deplete the stock of new businesses and reduce economic potential” around the world, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.

The “She Leads” programme aims to eliminate the barriers women face when starting and growing a business.

These include the lack of adequate access to finance, issues to do with legal rights, efforts to win over customers and a lack of relatable role models and mentors.

Women over the age of 21 who live in the UAE and have an existing business, are in the process of setting up a business or plan to begin one are eligible.

Participants will benefit from coaching, networking and learning opportunities, and the two most promising applicants will receive free business services.

“Business incubators and accelerators play an important role in the entrepreneurial ecosystem by not only offering training and services but also connecting business owners to opportunities and resources that will help them overcome various challenges that limit business development and growth,” said Lorenzo Jooris, chief executive of Creative Zone.

Programme entrants will be taught how to start, fund and grow a business. The course, which begins on September 22, will also focus on effective leadership, marketing, finance, distribution, public speaking and performance metrics.

UAE-based and international entrepreneurs and industry experts will teach theoretical and practical classes. Mentors include Humaira Ali, director of Intuitive Change, and Padmini Gupta, chief executive of Rise, among others.

The deadline for registration is September 20.

After completing the training, the top participants will get an opportunity to take part in “X Scale”, the accelerator’s second phase, where they will pitch their business plan to investors and entrepreneurs.