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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: A new business initiative aims to bring together female Saudi entrepreneurs with their American counterparts, including business leaders, in the hopes of forging connections and creating partnership opportunities.
Igniting Women’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Saudi Arabia, or Ignite for short, will host workshops and networking events during which women in the two countries can share insights and develop businesses.
The program was announced on Wednesday by the US mission to Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with the Atlantic Council’s empowerME initiative, the American Chamber of Commerce of Saudi Arabia, and Quantum Leaps, an organization for female entrepreneurs.
“Ignite builds on the advances women in Saudi Arabia are making as entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and business leaders,” said Martina Strong, the charge d’affaires to the US Mission in Saudi Arabia.
The project aims to provide women in the Kingdom with resources to help them pursue careers as CEOs, investors and startup owners, so that they can contribute to job creation and positive economic change.
“Ignite will bring together Saudi women with American entrepreneurs and business leaders in a series of workshops and networking events to build relationships, share knowledge and develop partnership opportunities,” Strong said.
“Saudi women are indeed reaching for success right now. Saudi women are driving progress under the Vision 2030 reform program. They are joining the Kingdom’s workforce and positions of leadership in unprecedented numbers.”
The idea for Ignite began to take shape last year, when Saudi Arabia held the presidency of the G20, during sessions of the forum’s Women 20 engagement group.
“Saudi women have made sure that women’s empowerment, entrepreneurship, economic opportunity, and security were at the heart of the G20 discussions during Saudi Arabia’s presidency in 2020,” Strong added.
Women in Saudi Arabia have already participated in business initiatives by US companies such as UPS, ExxonMobil and Lockheed Martin. The Ignite program also aims to help US entrepreneurs become involved in Saudi Arabia’s economic transformation under the Kingdom’s sweeping Vision 2030 reform program.
“The opportunity I see in Saudi right now for female founders, for female-led businesses, for female participation across the board ... there are no barriers,” said Lateefa Alwaalan, managing director of Endeavor Saudi Arabia, an organization that supports entrepreneurs.
“The barriers are not what they used to be but women still need access to networks. Networks create opportunities, so (the question is) how can we enable women to break those barriers and enable them to be a part of the business community.”
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