Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards reveals 2023 winners

Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards reveals 2023 winners
The awards celebrate and showcase individuals and enterprises shaping economies, value chains and the digital economy in EEMEA.
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Updated 08 May 2023

Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards reveals 2023 winners

Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards reveals 2023 winners

Mastercard has announced the winners of its second edition of the Women SME Leaders Awards at a virtual ceremony, celebrating the achievements of women-led businesses in 22 categories across multiple industry sectors in Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa. 

Launched in 2022 in collaboration with Entrepreneur Middle East, the Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards is the first initiative of its kind to recognize women-owned and run SMEs shaping the future of the region. 

“The second edition of the awards has once again exceeded our expectations — from receiving entries from diverse businesses to seeing the women of tomorrow raising the bar as we embrace a future that includes more women across industries. I’d like to congratulate all the winners for their contributions and commitment to the SME success story and for being a part of the Women SME Leaders Awards 2023,” said Amnah Ajmal, executive vice president of market development, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa at Mastercard.

The second edition of the awards saw 4,547 submissions from businesses with a turnover of less than $13.6 million and employing between six to 50 people.

Entry to the award’s 22 categories — which included The Designer, The Logistician, The Retailer, The Educator and The Investor — was open to all female individuals or businesses who have their offices or offer their services in EEMEA. Other award categories included The F and B Leader, The Educator, The Real Estate Leader, The Health Custodian, The Executive, The Leader of Tomorrow, The Leader in Agriculture and The Visionary, in addition to others. 

Celebrating and showcasing individuals and enterprises shaping economies, value chains and the digital economy, winners from the UAE, South Africa, Kuwait, Botswana, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Kenya, and Morocco were:

1. Marcela Sancho Montoya, founder, House of Pops

2. Rim Guirari, CEO, Mustard and Linen Interior Designer

3. Marloes Knippenberg, CEO, Kerten Hospitality

4. Meher Mirchandani, managing director, Palmon Group FZCO

5. Kim Thompson, founder and managing director, Raw Coffee Company

6. Masindi Netshakhuma, CEO, Renof Productions

7. Latifi bin Haider, founder, Baytuki

8. Noora Al-Askar, founder, Nutribox Your Pocket Nutritionist

9. Marang Mbaakanyi, founder and CEO, Drones of Africa

10. Susy Massetti, founder and CEO, Maria Massetti WLL

11. Roaya Saleh, founder, Villa Mamas Restaurant 

12. Youmna Khoury, founder, Youmi Beauty

13. Sarah Curtis and Zainab Imichi Alhassan Alli, founders, POP Communications

14. Jana Krimpe, founder and CEO, BEST Solutions

15. Anastasia Kopijevski, founder and CEO, Skaya Art Agency

16. Dina Mattar, founder and CEO, Dverse

17. Jennifer Obiorah, CEO, TeamUpcyclers

18. Karima Anbar, CEO, Intisar Foundation

19. Beatrice Jemimah Wanjiku Kiniti, founder, Jobenvic Enterprises LTD

20. Wada Kealotswe, founder and director, Aiko Creations t/a Eco Zera

21. Shilpa Mahtani, founder and COO, BnB ME

22. Mona Alami, co-founder, Ecofertil

The Women SME Leaders Awards 2023 judging committee included Ajmal, Tamara Pupic, managing editor of Entrepreneur Middle East, and Nezha Alaoui, founder and CEO, Women Choice.

The awards are aligned with Mastercard’s global commitment to connecting 25 million women entrepreneurs to the digital economy by 2025, as part of its goal to build a more sustainable and inclusive world.

CMI drives development of digital economy in MEA

CMI drives development of digital economy in MEA
Updated 30 May 2023

CMI drives development of digital economy in MEA

CMI drives development of digital economy in MEA

Fifth-generation networks will account for nearly a fifth of mobile connections in the Middle East and Africa by 2025, and almost half of connections in the GCC states, according to the GSMA. With the backing of China Mobile, China Mobile International remains committed to the region, providing global network resources and integrated solutions to help carriers and businesses tap into the opportunities that 5G will bring. 

As one of the industry leaders, CMI is connecting the world and driving global adoption of 5G. Its extensive global infrastructure supports customers in MEA with reliable, scalable and resilient network resources. 

The 45,000-km 2Africa submarine cable is an ambitious project to interconnect Africa, Europe (eastward via Egypt) and Asia (via Saudi Arabia). It was announced by CMI and other partners in May 2020, with 26 out of a total of 46 landings completed by February this year. When 2Africa goes live in 2024, it will deliver more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables currently serving Africa, with a design capacity of up to 180 Terabits per second.

The only Chinese company investing in the project, CMI is committed to the further growth of 4G in MEA and the continued roll-out of 5G and fixed broadband services. Its mission is to help bring connectivity to underserved and rural areas across the region while enhancing network resilience and global connectivity to benefit businesses and individuals throughout MEA. 

As a gateway to international connectivity, the 2Africa cable will also help to drive the upgrade and expansion of telecommunications networks in the region. It will offer customers seamless links between Africa and Europe, further interconnecting with CMI’s SEA-ME-WE 5 and Asia-Africa-Europe 1 subsea cable resources to extend connectivity to Asia. This will support the development of a thriving internet ecosystem, especially for underserved communities across Africa. 2Africa is an important milestone in CMI’s global development strategy. Offering ample capacity and faster transmission will allow CMI to help the nations of MEA to further develop their digital economy today and in the future. 

CMI continues to enhance regional telecom infrastructure in MEA by investing in network resources and expanding its footprint to better serve local customers and support business development. CMI currently has 80 submarine and terrestrial cables that provide total network capacity of over 123 T. These include 15 submarine cables and 23 terrestrial cables in which CMI has directly invested, such as the 20,000-km undersea SMW-5 cable between Egypt and Singapore. In addition, more than 30 of CMI’s 232 points of presence are located in the Middle East and major African countries, including UAE, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. Together with CMI’s 80+ cloud connect PoPs, this creates a strong global network that provides direct internet access and internet transit services for MEA at lower cost.

On March 7, CMI announced the successful launch of its Oman Muscat MC1 PoP. CMI’s second PoP in Oman is located within the carrier-neutral Equinix MC1 data center in Barka. This data center is also a landing station for multiple submarine cable systems, reinforcing the country’s importance as a network hub bridging Asia, Africa and Europe. 

In coming years, the Middle East will benefit hugely from the introduction of developments like smart city technologies, digital financial services and the Internet of Vehicles. CMI continues to work with partners like Zain KSA, Etisalat Egypt and Master Power Technologies etc. in driving the development and adoption of 5G, IoT and IDC solutions to boost digital transformation and advance the region.

GIB signs credit facility agreement with Italy’s SAIPEM

GIB signs credit facility agreement with Italy’s SAIPEM
Updated 30 May 2023

GIB signs credit facility agreement with Italy’s SAIPEM

GIB signs credit facility agreement with Italy’s SAIPEM

Gulf International Bank — Saudi Arabia has announced the signing of a SR1.07 billion ($285.3 million) credit facility agreement with the Italian-listed multinational engineering group SAIPEM. The facility, in the form of a letter of guarantee, supports the company’s ongoing activities in the Kingdom.

SAIPEM is a leading oil and gas contractor with a nearly 50-year track record operating in Saudi Arabia where it has successfully delivered multiple onshore/offshore/drilling infrastructure projects. 

An official signing ceremony was held at GIB KSA headquarters in Alkhobar. Representing GIB was Abdulaziz Al-Helaissi, GIB’s group chief executive officer, and the relationship management team alongside Khaled Abbas, group head of wholesale banking. Present from SAIPEM was Jean-Luc Dubois, chairman of the board of directors of the main operative company in Saudi Arabia, and administration, finance and control regional manager — Middle East.

Al-Helaissi said: “GIB is proud to have signed this facility agreement with SAIPEM, supporting its ongoing activities in the Kingdom and in one of the most important sectors of the economy. We are pleased to be a go-to partner for large corporates, both local and foreign, operating in the Kingdom and will continue to build our position as a market leading financing bank.” 

Dubois added: “We are proud to collaborate with GIB as a trusted business partner supporting SAIPEM’s activities and growth perspectives in the Kingdom.”

GIB KSA provides retail, corporate and institutional customers across the Kingdom with a comprehensive offering of banking and financial services covering wholesale banking, asset management, investment banking and retail banking service via “meem” by GIB. 

The bank, which is the first to be headquartered in the Eastern Province, has branches in Dhahran, Riyadh and Jeddah, and was established as a local Saudi bank in April 2019 after having operated in the Kingdom for nearly 20 years as foreign branches of the pan-GCC GIB. The bank, during this time, has been a pioneer in the local market, having launched its meem digital banking services in 2015, making it the first digital bank in the region providing Shariah-compliant products for retail customers.

GIB Saudi Arabia is regulated by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority and has been established with a paid-up capital of SR7.5 billion. It is owned equally by GIB and the Public Investment Fund.

Chery Arrizo 8 — the new sought-after sedan in Kingdom

Chery Arrizo 8 — the new sought-after sedan in Kingdom
Updated 29 May 2023

Chery Arrizo 8 — the new sought-after sedan in Kingdom

Chery Arrizo 8 — the new sought-after sedan in Kingdom

The new Arrizo 8 is the latest addition to Chery’s stellar lineup for this year. The model is an exceptionally appealing sedan, set on a newer chassis and powered by technologically superior petrol engines, ensuring the highest levels of comfort and fuel efficiency.

There are two variants being launched — a sporty version for the thrill-seekers, with a dot matrix grille featuring a blue trim, and the more premium, upmarket version with a unique grille design which features gold-colored trim. The light unit is visually striking, complete with LED daytime running lights, in addition to the main headlights, that make for an unforgettable look. The front also includes an LED stripe with the Chery badge in the middle, guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on its onlookers.

The Arrizo 8 is a sizable car with dimensions of 4,780/1,843/1,469 and a wheelbase measuring 2,790 mm. It is spacious from every angle, no matter how you look at it.

Sanabel Modern Motors Managing Director Abdullah Madhoun said that the launch of Arrizo 8, the newest Chery product, in the Saudi market is a testament to the successes of Chery and its models. Chery has grabbed a major market share and is highly competitive in the Kingdom.

Madhoun praised Chery’s innovative strategy in creating an interactive platform called “WCWL” to engage with users. The platform not only helps achieve 360-degree customer care service when using the car, but also provides users with a feedback mechanism, helps them schedule periodic servicing, and even lets the user in on activities for Chery owners.

The Arrizo 8 interior is upmarket with premium materials and upholstery, with the eye-catcher in the cabin being the sleek, 12.3-inch dual instrument panel. The infotainment system boasts soothing graphics and supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in addition to having an integrated digital assistant.

Sanabel Modern Motors National Marketing Manager Ibrahim Hassan said the executives at Chery and Sanabel attach great importance to the company’s consumers in Saudi Arabia. They all agree that it is not only an important market for Chery products, but also a stepping stone in the progress to other global markets as well. “Chery will continue to keep investing in visionary human resources while maintaining exceptional customer satisfaction,” he said.

Hassan attributed the recent success achieved by the company in global markets, to its commitment to the philosophy of “focusing on the user,” and the constant focus toward existing and future consumers in other regions, listening to their needs, and meeting their expectations when it comes to Chery’s high quality products and services.

The sedan’s cabin features a three-spoked, D-shaped, sporty steering wheel that allows not only for easy ingress and egress but also provides a youthful feel. The driver is assisted with a range of controls and buttons, right at his fingertips, which helps to provide uninterrupted driving pleasure. The audio system boasts a Sony setup with eight speakers, providing for an immersive audio experience. Moving toward the rear of the cabin, the rear seats have enough space to seat three full-sized adults in comfort. There is no shortage of leg room and no compromise on comfort for the passengers sitting in the back, even on long journeys.

The Arrizo 8 looks like a hatchback due to its design that allows for exceptional cabin space but has a traditional sedan boot offering highly competitive boot space.

Unilever first company to add electric van to UAE logistics fleet

Unilever first company to add electric van to UAE logistics fleet
Updated 29 May 2023

Unilever first company to add electric van to UAE logistics fleet

Unilever first company to add electric van to UAE logistics fleet

Unilever Arabia has announced the addition of the first-ever electric van to its fleet in the UAE. The incorporation of the 1-ton battery-powered van signifies a major stride in Unilever’s efforts toward reduced emissions via its logistics operations and achieving net-zero value chain emissions by 2039. 

As part of a strategic partnership with retailer Carrefour — which is owned and operated by Majid Al-Futtaim in the UAE — the EV van will initially deliver Unilever’s products to Carrefour’s Mall of the Emirates store. This will provide customers in Dubai with a sustainable delivery solution, reducing emissions by up to 15 percent in comparison with traditional vehicles. 

The region’s first EV van was launched in the presence of Youssef Lootah, CEO, corporate strategy and performance sector, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, along with Ahmed Kadous, Unilever’s head of supply chain MENA and PC Middle-East and Turkiye; Khalil Yassine, head of Unilever Arabia; and Luc Charrier, vice president of merchandise for Carrefour at Majid Al-Futtaim Retail.

Kadous said: “Sustainability is integrated into everything we do at Unilever. As part of our vision to ensure a purpose-led and sustainable business model, the EV van aligns with our bold ambitions toward delivering a profitable, yet responsible performance and growth. The introduction of electric vehicles to our delivery fleet is a core ambition and is central to Unilever’s sustainability commitment. We look forward to working more closely with the public sector and industry to further expand the infrastructure and seamlessly support the transition to electric mobility. I would like to congratulate the team for their unwavering efforts in driving Unilever’s vision forward and thank our partners for sharing our ambitions toward achieving a net-zero business model.”

Bertrand Loumaye, country manager for Carrefour at Majid Al-Futtaim Retail, said: “We are committed to sourcing and delivering sustainably sourced produce as part of our ‘Dare Today, Change Tomorrow’ strategy. The launch of the first electric delivery van in the UAE from Unilever, a highly valued partner, marks a major milestone in Majid Al-Futtaim’s journey to becoming net positive in carbon and water by 2040 — as well as our collaborative efforts to achieve the UAE’s Net-Zero 2050 strategy. It is exciting to be at the forefront of such momentous, positive change as we continue to make industry firsts happen.”

Prior to joining the existing fleet, the EV van underwent a series of planning and testing to ensure its readiness and compliance.

Major real estate investment exhibition begins in Jeddah

Major real estate investment exhibition begins in Jeddah
Updated 29 May 2023

Major real estate investment exhibition begins in Jeddah

Major real estate investment exhibition begins in Jeddah

The first edition of the Saudi Real Estate Development and Ownership Exhibition 2023, the leading real estate event in the Kingdom, opened on May 28, welcoming more than 60 international and regional developers.

The event, spanning 10,000 square meters of exhibition space, was officially inaugurated by Saad Al-Otaibi, member of the board at Jeddah Chamber.

Taking place until May 31 at the Jeddah Center for Forums and Events, the exhibition is Saudi Arabia’s largest and most influential property investment showcase, expecting to attract more than 15,000 visitors with an interest in purchasing or promoting real estate.

A highlight this year includes dialogue sessions and workshops to review opportunities and modern methods in real estate development, in addition to a number of specialized training courses. The event features the participation of competent authorities and real estate developers and financing agencies, who will review the opportunities and modern methods in real estate development.

The Saudi Exhibition for Real Estate Development and Ownership, or SEREDO, is considered a major platform to develop and upgrade the Saudi real estate market, as it brings together the agencies that serve the real estate sector and its pioneers under one roof, contributing to the exchange of experiences, dissemination of knowledge and raising awareness among visitors of the exhibition about the importance of real estate investment and real estate products, in addition to providing successful marketing solutions to meet the demand.

Abdulrahman Al-Zahrani, general manager of Aalyalshan Company, the organizer of the exhibition, said the goal is to present an effective real estate exhibition that contributes to the development and advancement of the Saudi real estate market.

Al-Zahrani said that holding such specialized real estate exhibitions is in tune with the aspirations to upgrade the sector and diversify economic resources to increase the contribution of the non-oil sectors to the GDP.

He also pointed out the positive results being achieved in the real estate sector, which are in line with the positive indicators in the economic plan.

Al-Zahrani noted the government’s measures to attract investments in the real estate sector, implement Saudi Vision 2030 and achieve the sustainable development goals.

It is expected that the volume of real estate financing in the coming period will reach more than SR100 billion ($26.6 billion). This will reflect on real estate demand, market stability and growth, in addition to the facilities and infrastructure provided by the government that encourage real estate investment and require expertise, planning and analysis.

Amidst the rise in real estate market indicators in Saudi Arabia, studies show that the Kingdom needs more than 3 million housing units until 2040.