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Jeddah panel studies challenges facing women entrepreneurs

The steering committee of Jeddah Entrepreneurs Meet (JEM) and its related competition presented their 2nd report for the first of its kind program supporting women entrepreneurs and small businesses.
The program aims to develop and promote understanding of the spirit of enterprise through mentorship, seed money funding and initiatives presented by the public and private sector to further open doors for their business development.
The report, presented during a media event and coinciding with the Jeddah Economic Forum 2013, featured the action plan of the entrepreneurs program and the initiatives. The media event was attended by Fahad Abu Al-Nasr, CEO of Al-Aghar Group; Ziad Al-Bassam, board member of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Sarah Al-Ayed, co-chair of the JEM, member of the Jeddah Young Business Women’s Committee and board member of TRACCS; and Rania Salamah, head of the Young Business Women’s Committee and also co-chair of the JEM.
The Jeddah Entrepreneurs Competition witnessed over 1,000 online registrations and upon initial screening the number of eligible entrepreneurial projects and candidates was filtered down to 300 participants, from which 25 finalists were then selected to take part in the business plan and development training program.
Prior to the Jeddah Entrepreneurs Meet in May 2012, the judging committee met with all the 25 finalists and rated their businesses and plans to select the top winners, awarding seven the title of the JEM 2012 entrepreneurial winners.
The report featured the key challenges facing the growth of small businesses for women and their ability to turn a small business into a medium enterprise. The report also featured key solutions that are under study or implementation in cooperation with various entities that support entrepreneurial ventures to overcome such challenges.
“JEM is an important program that had all of its phases planned out in order for us to register any challenges that face women entrepreneurs in the Kingdom, while at the same time assessing the means of tackling such challenges,” stated Al-Nasr.
“The mentorship and follow-up of the entrepreneurial initiatives of the seven winners is in cooperation with leading businessmen based on their expertise and industry they are in. Key performance indicators and level of progress per winner were set within specified criteria during a workshop that was conducted by the JEM steering committee, mentors and winners,” he added.

“JEM is unique with the number of benefits that are open for entrepreneurs in the Kingdom, especially with the first-hand expertise and mentorship they are gaining from leading business men and women in the various fields,” said Rida Islam, CEO of Future Waves and head of the JEM steering committee.
Recognizing the efforts and support from both the public and private sectors and their reflection on the positive cooperation aspect required Al-Bassam stated: “The idea of the program and what it has achieved in its first cycle to date is within the vision set for the program. We look forward to seeing it further expand to be implemented on a larger scale to further serve our key audiences. I laud the efforts of the Al-Ahgar Group, the Jeddah Young Business Women’s Committee, and all partners and supporters in setting such a program in place with attention to evghy detail to achieve the targets.”
Al-Ayed said: “Education and skills development is a key for us to witness growth and sustainability in enterprise creation and development,” commented Al-Ayed. “We found there’s a need for students to participate in training and internship programs that expose them to the business community and give them hands-on experience that helps not only develop their skills but their character, attitude and work personality. This will give them the means for dealing with challenges on all fronts and identifying their potential and growth factor.”

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