The number of female CEOs and entrepreneurs in Dubai is increasing. Three women share their secrets of success – from fundraising to working together.
More and more women are taking the step into self-employment in Dubai, from food and beverage markets to consulting firms and retail outlets.
One factor is the infrastructure that entrepreneurs and actors in the business creation ecosystem in Dubai can access. These include incentives such as additional funding and corporate licensing programs.
For two years, former buyer Coralie Francois-Dolidon dreamed of starting her own fashion company in Dubai. She was convinced that there was a market for small independent designer fashion labels. After carefully studying the market, she found that starting a business was easier than she thought.
Today, five years later, her multi-brand fashion company, Maison Clad, has five stores across the city. The challenge paid off, she tells euronews:
“Today I’m a salesperson, an accountant, still a buyer and of course also a marketing manager. I can now develop a website. It’s been an interesting five-year journey.”
Networks and support in Dubai for women
PureBorn is an organic and sustainable diaper company founded in Dubai in 2017 by Hannah Curran. It has since expanded to 14 countries.
Her journey as an entrepreneur has not been easy and not for the faint of heart, but there is support in the form of male and female mentors, as well as women-only networking and support groups in Dubai.
She added that the fundraising aspect is still a challenge and a global problem.
“Globally, only 2 percent of all venture capital money goes to companies founded by women, which is shocking, and the numbers don’t lie. So on the fundraising side, I think we’re giving women entrepreneurship a big boost But in general we have a great network of support and mentors in Dubai.”
According to data analyst MAGNiTT, 11% of venture capital funding went to female founders in the UAE in 2021, compared to the international average of just 3%. 13% went to female and male founders, and more than three quarters (76%) went to founders.
Reem Abou Samra is the founder of LaLoge Beauty Lounge with offices in the Address and Mandarin Oriental hotels. She opened the sixth branch of her hair and beauty salon during the pandemic, a time when many establishments had to close.
She thinks that many women could be even more successful if they supported each other.
“I think we could do better if we had more organizations for women entrepreneurs, that would have a positive impact. Every business is a great challenge, but at the same time it’s also a great joy to see that you are successful.”
It’s not just women entrepreneurs who are breaking new ground in Dubai. dr Saeeda Jaffar is Group Country Manager and Senior Vice President for Visa’s operations in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. An Emirati national with over 20 years of experience in the region, she believes there are few places in the world so welcoming and open to all.
“Women in the workplace are not just something that is encouraged, but something that is taken for granted.”
Her advice for succeeding in traditionally male-dominated industries:.
“Focus on what you enjoy, then the rest will take care of itself. Then I think it matters a lot less whether it’s a traditionally male-dominated world or not. That being said, I think that It’s always helpful to have role models and other people around who may have gone down a similar path and experienced similar things. Visa lives a lot of that.”