The US Consulate General in Jeddah, the University of Iowa, and Education For Employment, a nonprofit in the MENA region linking unemployed youth to job opportunities, have launched a one-year project to train Saudi women from the western region on entrepreneurship skills in new emerging sectors like IT, real estate and e-commerce. This project will focus on fast-growing sectors in Saudi Arabia, in line with Vision 2030 goals to support economic growth in the Kingdom.
The project will provide 50 young women with professional training and connections to local and international mentors that are necessary to start their businesses.
The Western Saudi Arabia Venture School for Women project is designed to “put new entrepreneurial tools into the hands of Saudi women,” said Dimy Doresca, director of the Institute for International Business at the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business. “With the guidance of Iowa professionals, we will train aspiring innovators of business and social enterprise, through the startup process using methods that reduce risk and encourage ongoing innovation,” said Doresca. “We will nurture and empower women in Saudi Arabia to become examples of social and economic success in their communities.”
The women will participate in Venture School International, an entrepreneurial educational program that guides students through the startup process by teaching them how to identify a market need and build a business to meet it. The university is partnering with the nonprofit Education For Employment to teach the Venture School International training, which will be complemented by contacts at local financing organizations, government officials, and business support services. Doresca said Iowa women entrepreneurs will also work with the Saudi women as mentors, providing support and encouragement while serving as role models. As part of the program, university faculty and Iowa entrepreneurs will travel to Saudi Arabia to provide training and help develop mentor relationships.
“We are very pleased to partner with the University of Iowa and the US Consulate to enable young Saudi women reach their potential by empowering them with cutting-edge skills to compete in growing sectors, especially in the digital economy. The skills that these young women will acquire are based on a proven model that has enabled EFE in Saudi to connect over 5,000 people to the world of work, 52 percent of which are young Saudi women,” said EFE in Saudi CEO Abdullah Al-Ghamdi.