Women + Women = Success

By Jo Phillips

Women still lag behind pay with their male counterparts by 135 years: Let’s just say that again, it will take 135 years for women to catch up in the pay gap…Shocked? You should be. Especially as in 2020 women were only 100 years behind. It usually takes women to highlight the power and wonder of other women. The Unlock Her Future Prize 2023 Winners were announced yesterday, a collective that looks to raise women, by other women, who have businesses that work for the better good of people and the planet After all, it’s going to take work from within to really change things for the better. Women bring a different quality to the workplace so no world is complete without these perspectives. Find out more here in Women + Women = Success

Yesterday eight women came to London to be part of an event for entrepreneurial women working with social impact from the Middle East and North Africa in its inaugural edition of the Unlock Her Future Prize in conjunction with The Bicester Collection.

This prize-giving ceremony was held also in celebration of International Women’s Day and was hosted by author and women’s activist Lina AbiRafeh.

The equation “Women + Women = Success” speaks volumes about the power of women collaborating.

The eight finalists representing Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and the UAE attended two pitch days in London to compete to become the winners of the first edition of the start-up business competition, which aims to identify and support women’s social impact entrepreneurs who are leveraging system-changing innovation as a force for good.

Over a two-day period before the prize giving, each of the eight presented their business to a team including Judges Desirée Bollier, Chair and Global Chief Merchant of Value Retail, creator and operator of The Bicester Collection; Dr Iman Bibars, Vice President and Regional Director, Ashoka Arab World and founder of Women’s Initiative for Social Entrepreneurship (WISE); the Hon. Dr Badira Ibrahim Al Shihhi, Vice Chair of the State Council of Sultanate of Oman; Elham Fardad, founder and CEO, Migrant Leaders; and sustainability advisor Caterina Occhio, founder of SeeMe and Ethicarei.

All reached a unanimous decision, recognising the exceptional talent of both Noor Jaber and Sara Ali llalla.

Fella Bouti, founder of EcoDalle, Sara Llalla, Co-Founder of EcoCentric, Nuhayr Zein, founder of Leukeather, Safaa Ayyad, Founder & CEO of Dawerha, Muna Alamer, founder of Lesser Sustainability Solutions, Chantal Khoueiry, Noor Jaber, founder of Nawat Health, and Reem Hamed, founder of Gifted, attend the Unlock Her Future Prize 2023 MENA edition presented by DO GOOD by The Bicester Collection in partnership with Ashoka Arab World and NYU Abu Dhabi at Frameless London. Photo by Dave Benett

Noor Jaber, Nawat (Lebanon) is enhancing women’s sexual and reproductive health (SRHR) through a safe and accessible digital space providing SRSH knowledge in Arabic via educational content and consultations with qualified experts, offering confidentiality, privacy and convenience. In a country where women’s bodies and bodily functions are considered unspeakable, this is a brave woman pushing boundaries.

“I’m so thrilled to have been selected as a winner of the Unlock Her Future Prize, this initiative brings validation to my passion and to my mission to bring the importance of women’s reproductive health out into the open and to empower women to care for their well-being and take informed decisions about their bodies.”

Noor Jaber, founder of Nawat

Sara Llalla, EcoCentric (Iraq/UAE) created an online marketplace and circular economy system designed to mitigate microplastic food contamination and eliminate plastic waste.

Winning this prestigious prize validates the need of EcoCentric’s services in our society. We’re introducing the only truly sustainable food packaging system, which should be normalised as part of our everyday and now is the perfect time to launch this in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the host of COP 28.

Sara llalla, founder of EcoCentric.

Each will receive a business grant of up to $100,000, bespoke mentorship from international experts and an education programme from presenting partner New York University Abu Dhabi.

Inspired by the power of product invention, the judges decided to allocate the third prize between two other finalists who are at different stages of the development of their invention.

Fella Bouti, Ecodalle (Algeria) provides ecological construction and homogeneous, economical and integrated irrigation solutions to improve large cities’ air quality and urban temperature.

Unlock Her Future stands for the power of women, this is an incredible opportunity, it will be life-changing for me!”

Fella Bouti, founder of Ecodalle

Nuhayr Zein, Leukeather (UAE) creates a sustainable and ethical vegetal material alternative to exotic leathers made from dried plant pods and a by-product of existing agriculture which minimises its carbon footprint and provides an additional source of income for farming communities.

“The Unlock Her Future Prize will allow Leukeather to develop, so that we may all take a step forward towards a more eco-friendly and responsible world by collaborating with nature and completely eliminating the unethical and wasteful killing of exotic species”.

Nuhayr Zein,founder, Leukeather

Open to women of any age with an inspiring not-for-profit business idea, or a business where their for-profit goals generate a positive return to society; the Unlock Her Future Prize identifies system-changing ventures that will drive sustainable positive social, cultural and environmental impact for generations to come, as defined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. A global programme, the inaugural edition celebrated the women of the Middle East and North Africa and in 2024, the prize will travel around the world to celebrate women from another geographical region.

The Bicester Collection is a family of 11 distinctive shopping destinations in Europe and China defined by extraordinary experiences while offering remarkable value. The Collection, created and operated by Value Retail, brings together the world’s most discerning guests and the world’s most renowned brands on a journey of discovery.

The Villages are located close to some of Europe’s and China’s most celebrated cities: London, Milan, Munich, Dublin, Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt, Munich, Suzhou and Shanghai. Collectively home to more than 1,300 boutiques, The Bicester Collection offers guests an ever-evolving curation of fashion and lifestyle brands, world-famous restaurants, exciting pop-ups, and imaginative art installations throughout the year.

DO GOOD is The Bicester Collection’s platform to make the lives of others better, brands, guests, people, and communities. Representing a culture that places giving back at its heart, the programme harnesses a sense of purpose and belonging amongst colleagues and engages with guests, standing as a powerful collective force for good.

the core mission is to generate transformative social impact through inspirational partners, with a focus on unlocking the potential of women and children, to align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The brand looks to play its part in making a difference locally and globally for generations to come.

Others involved include:-

Ashoka; a global organisation. Ashoka Arab World is the regional hub for Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, the world’s largest platform for social entrepreneurs. Ashoka was founded in 1981 as a non-profit organisation based on the idea that the most powerful force for good in the world is a social entrepreneur:

New York University Abu Dhabi. NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective program with majors in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, arts, and humanities with a world centre for advanced research.

Almosafer (part of Seera Group), Saudi Arabia’s Leading Travel Company. Elevating the journey for travellers from Saudi Arabia, the region and beyond while harnessing Seera Group’s 40+ years of expertise, Almosafer supports Saudi Arabia’s vision as a national champion for tourism, creating opportunities for outbound, leisure and religious travel whilst serving B2C and B2B customers, partners, and suppliers with state-of-the-art travel solutions, a digital-first mindset and travel advisory.

It takes a village to raise a child but it takes the world to raise us all up. Often those at the head of the queue are women; our world richer for that.

Discover more at TheBicesterCollection.com

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