US Mission to the UAE, startAD open applications for 'AWE UAE 3.0 – Women in Business' initiative
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US Mission to the UAE, startAD open applications for ‘AWE UAE 3.0 – Women in Business’ initiative

US Mission to the UAE, startAD open applications for ‘AWE UAE 3.0 – Women in Business’ initiative

The programme, aimed at supporting women-owned SMEs in the UAE, will start in December and conclude on March 8, 2023


In partnership with the US Mission to the UAE, startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based accelerator powered by Tamkeen and anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi, has opened applications for the third edition of the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) programme, titled ‘AWE UAE 3.0 – Women in Business’.

The programme is a US Department of State initiative that gives women entrepreneurs in more than 80 countries around the world the knowledge, networks, and access they need to launch and scale successful businesses.

Applications opened on September 19 with a November 29 deadline. The three-month programme will enable women-owned SMEs in the UAE to identify and analyse new channels, markets and customers.

It will also strengthen the operational business pillars that these businesses may not have the resources or experience to build, focusing on business resilience, adaptability, and identifying growth opportunities.

Commencing on December 13, the programme will consist of workshops, mentoring, and one-on-one coaching by experienced business strategists, innovation experts and mentors. It will culminate on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2023, where finalists will showcase their achievements and businesses to the program partners and key stakeholders from the UAE innovation ecosystem.

Counsellor for Public Affairs at the US Embassy in the UAE Robin Solomon said: “The US Mission to the UAE is proud to partner with startAD to drive the third edition of the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) in the UAE. Since 2020, startAD has supported 44 UAE women entrepreneurs and innovation leaders through this programme, giving them the tools and confidence they need to launch and scale successful businesses.  By helping them cope with specific challenges they face in running their businesses, AWE is helping women more fully participate in and contribute to the local and global economy.  We look forward to welcoming a new cohort of AWE UAE participants, and continuing to work with UAE organisations, such as startAD, to promote women’s economic empowerment.”

Senior associate director of startAD Hana Barakat added: “The SME sector represents more than 94 per cent of the number of companies operating in the country, with 48 per cent of those SMEs owned by women. In recognition of the tremendous contributions that women entrepreneurs provide to the economy, AWE UAE equips women-owned businesses with the skills, tools, and network to focus on their business resilience enabling them to thrive and grow.

“AWE UAE will provide access to experts to gain new insights on local and global markets as well as networking opportunities that will allow them to connect with potential partners, new customer channels, and potential investors. The graduates will leave this programme with an action plan that helps them reinvent their business through guided learning and execution.”

The first two editions of AWE UAE incubated 21 businesses, resulting in partnerships and internships in sectors ranging from retail and construction to healthcare services. Two participating businesses secured commercial agreements with large Abu Dhabi-based corporations, and others expanded their operations in markets such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The programme is open to female UAE Nationals or long-term residents, between 20 to 55 years old, who are owners of a VAT-registered small business, or SME leaders who influence strategic decision-making.

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