Over thousands of years, women and men have contributed proportionally to the chores needed to sustain their living and that of their offspring. As the men hunted for food, the women multitasked – gathered food, looked after their dwellings and their children who at an early age also contributed to the family chores.
In the past century a lot has changed, as a large portion of the world population evolved from an agricultural to an industrial to a knowledge based society. Through this transformation, the demand for physical labor in the household and around the community has been reduced thanks to automation and intellect became the most important survival tool. Education became an absolute necessity for all.
In the Arab world, this transformation happened at an even faster pace than the rest of the world, especially in some regions like the Arabian Gulf. The societies are still transforming very rapidly leapfrogging into the knowledge based economy, and even though most of the university graduates in these regions are women, their participation in the workplace still lags behind men in most countries. This is a tremendous missed opportunity for the Arab region as a whole.
Of course, women in the region still bear the major responsibility of raising the kids and looking after their homes, but with the availability of domestic help, close relations with the extended families, and the proliferation of nurseries the ‘downtime’ for women has been greatly reduced.
As we rolled out our various entrepreneurship programs across the Arab world, we were pleasantly surprised by the sheer number of female applicants to our various programs, the number that made it to the shortlist in each of these programs, and the passion that these ladies demonstrated through the process. It also became clear to us that entrepreneurship provided a brilliant opportunity for women to learn about key business skills, pursue something that they are passionate about and most importantly provide them with control over how they spend their time so that they can juggle between family and work priorities. For that reason, we in Potential, decided to setup a women entrepreneur development program – Hadafi – that focuses on empowering women through business.
Today’s connected world makes it extremely simple to start a business from home, from any remote corner of the region, and allows access to resources, knowledge and tools- that only a few years ago – where accessible to a elite group of individuals around the world. These benefits are accentuated when women make use of them, since they have more to gain from this additional accessibility.
By investing in women to gain fundamental business skills that they can use in their own business and which can be of immense value if they choose to go into employment careers, we ensure that the female population stays involved in the development of our communities. Countless studies have shown that women who are given an opportunity to start a business are more likely to end up paying back any loan that was given to them, will produce more benefits in their communities and would also have better management of proceeds from that business. These benefits, don’t just come from the establishment of private enterprises, but also women add more productivity and creativity to the overall work environment when they are employed into organisations.
The world is becoming more and more competitive and the demand for talented, connected, and productive individuals is paramount. For societies to flourish and thrive, all its members need to be contributing to the development and growth. Given the pivotal roles that women play in these societies – constituting half of the population and heavily influencing the development of future generations – it is essential that we spare no effort in bringing women on board to the business world. Given women’s innate social, multitasking and development skills, it is essential that the business world taps into that talent. Given the fact that the vast majority of consumer purchase choices in the world are taken by women, then they should be much more involved in the development of these choices.
The mandate to us all is clear, we need to invest in women to help them develop practical business skills that benefit them and those around them. Entrepreneurship development is an efficient and effective way to transfer these business skills and help create the next generation of confident, resourceful, talented, innovative women that can be a role model for the future generation and return the productivity balance to the world.
Invest in Women – You are investing in our Future.
Shadi has successfully conducted business in the Middle East region for over a decade, covering Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon. His wide business and cultural exposure gave him a detailed understanding of the various buying patterns in each of these countries in addition to the business acumen acquired from his coverage of the Middle East market as a whole. During his career, he has excelled while being part of major Multi-national organizations selling a number of high-profile, strategic multi-million dollar projects across the region covering various industries and solutions. He is well known for his creative and consulting business approach. Also during that period, he was able to acquire best practices and in depth experience which are the fundamentals of the top-level companies he worked with.