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Women From MENA At Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards

Started in 2006, the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards aim to identify, support and encourage resourceful ideas by women ‘treps globally. Developed by Cartier, the Women’s Forum, McKinsey & Company and INSEAD, so far they’ve helped over 120 potential female businesspeople and recognized 38 Laureates. Three promising women from each region are nominated, and go through two rounds that include mentorship and a presentation of their respective business plans for jury evaluation. One Laureate is chosen per region and receives US$20,000 of funding, one year of coaching, networking opportunities and media exposure. Who are the three women representing the MENA region this year? Hailing from UAE is May Habib, Founder and CEO of Qodoba, a tech company using “proprietary software” to enhance “localization and translation.” With lack of quality Arabic content online, the company has shaken up the overlooked industry, raising $1.5m in Series A funding. Next up is Mariam Hazem, Co-Founder of Reform Studio, which designs high-quality fashion products out of plastic bags. Motivated by the Arab Spring revolution during her third year as a design student, by upcycling the bags to new products, they are also reviving traditional Egyptian craft while reducing waste. The third entrepreneur in the running is Rama Kayyali Jardaneh, who with her business partner Lamia Tabaa, used their backgrounds in TV production and documentary filmmaking to make an Arabic-language children’s film The Animals Around Us. With a promising audience waiting for similar content, and a lack of engaging Arabic language content for children, Little Thinking Minds was started, offering varied content and an alternative educational experience for kids. Last year, the Laureate for MENA was Sima Najjar who founded in Jordan, a website producing how-to videos for the Arab speaker. The official announcement of the six successful Laureates will take place on October 16th. We’re rooting for you, ladies!

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