Stronger women, better future - GulfToday

Stronger women, better future


The Sharjah Business Women’s Council (SBWC) launched its ‘Apprentice Initiative’ on Thursday. Kamal Kassim / Gulf Today

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

Guidance through mentorship and hands-on training are strategic to a sustainable future. Thus, the Sharjah Business Women’s Council (SBWC) launched on Thursday its “Apprentice Initiative” for the continuing growth of both local and expatriate women entrepreneurs across the UAE and specifically in the Emirate of Sharjah.

For the launch, the non-profit organisation, set up in 2022 by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Federal Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairperson of the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, conducted a workshop on candle-making, most welcomed by the participants as it ignited the artistic side in themselves while allowing them to meet other like-minded individuals.

The launch coincides with the “Emirati Women’s Day” on August 28 (Sunday), first observed on August 15, 2015 under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, “The Mother of the Nation” and Wife of the Founder of the United Arab Emirates, the late His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The theme for 2022 is “Inspiring Reality…Sustainable Future.”

From the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park, SBWC director Mariam Bin Al Shaikh, who said that so far, the organisation has 2,500 members of various nationalities, told Gulf Today: “What we want to focus on is to take the women to the next level. They get to be mentored by women who are already succeeding in the business. These women are our board members. They are from different sectors.”

“Going to the next level means giving them marketing mentorship, financial mentorship and just how to navigate themselves in the market,” she continued.

So as not to be on the dumps when predicted or unforeseen crises set in, Al Shaikh cited the stubborn Novel Coronavirus and the maturity, optimism and determination required from each person: “(Going to the next level means) how to be resilient in the market to whatever comes. Like in the pandemic, we saw how some companies were failing due to not having resilience or back-up. So having that mentorship, that direct guidance, one-on-one with the businesses, with the businesswomen, give them enough trust for these small businesses to finally step out.”

“So, if they were a home business, they start (operating) outside and having their own shops,” she also said.

SBWC membership is for the experienced or veteran businesswomen as well as for the upcoming or the novice “looking to open a business and looking for (direction).”

Selected SBWC members who enroll in the “Apprentice Initiative” via before September 8 (Thursday) will not only be the mentees, but “shall also be connected to a host of suppliers and other key contacts” in their chosen fields.

The scheduled training programmes are in the areas of food and beverage (by Nawal Al Nuaimi and Sara Al Awadhi), engineering and interior design (by Shafia Alkheyaili), perfumery (by Olympia Tabach, Dr. Lina Alsamkari, Gergana Abdulrahman, and Audrey Truchi), fashion (by Wafa Balaswad and Maitha Al Ansari), jewellery (by Sheikha Al Sarkal and Alia Bin Omair), and technology (by Nada Al Lawati, Al Reem Al Ammari and Maryam Al Junaibi).

“These are the types of the businesses we at SBWC currently have. We welcome all nationalities and our goal is to empower and advance women in the UAE’s economy specifically here in Sharjah; to give them the confidence to step out and show the world what a woman is capable of doing, especially the Emirati woman,” Al Shaikh said on the sidelines.

On the small to medium enterprises as an SBWC focus, Al Shaikh clarified that these are among the targets as over 48 per cent of Sharjah’s business portfolio are from this industry which has been proved to be a global socio-economic fuel: “Give them enough power so they will become the big businesses of the future.”

She said that traineeships in the Sciences/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics have also been blueprinted since under the vision of Sheikha Jawaher, women must also be given ample opportunities to bloom in these “male-dominated” fields as their engagements in these shall result in a much better society.

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