Sharjah Business Women Council leads the way in COVID-19 landscape

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC), an affiliate of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment has setout an inspiring story of progress and maturity by achieving several significant milestones in recent years. The Organization had doubled its member base to 2,246 in just a span of five years.

Remaining faithful to its concept of building a nurturing and inspiring atmosphere for businesswomen and entrepreneurs, the organization has been conducting workshops, exhibitions, conferences, trade missions and business trips, in addition to active engagement in various economic activities at the local, regional and international levels. These diverse support programs have supported the creation of entrepreneurship culture and commanded to a stream in sustainable women-led projects in Sharjah.

SBWC’s overarching idea to be an efficient associate in the overall economic improvement of the country has seen the council grant technical support to women interested in beginning their businesses, and possibilities to engage in local and international conferences and exhibitions. They have also supported women entrepreneurs in shaping partnerships with organizations in the public and private sectors both within the UAE and across the globe.

The significant feat

Sheikha Hind Bint Majid Al Qassimi, Chairperson of SBWC, has remarked that during the important period between April 2016 to April 2020, SBWC has doubled its membership numbers to touch 2,246, of which 60 percent are UAE nationals. In 2016, the total membership of the organization was 1,248.

The current membership base is comprised of 46 percent businesswomen, 49 percent professionals, and 5 percent students.

The members come under five categories: business owners, professionals, professional women, students, and individuals. SBWC membership comprises businesswomen from 21 areas including real estate, legal consultancy, education, management, arts and crafts, information technology, software development, etc.

Supporting women in technology, innovation and digital businesses

According to Al Qasimi, fashion, clothing, food and beverage, are the predominant quarters that SBWC members are employed in. However, there is a larger impetus provided to support ventures in Technology, Innovation and Digital Businesses. To emphasize some of the dynamics of this sector and support the development of a notable number of startups, SBWC handled more than 65 workshops, conferences, exhibitions, trade missions and business trips over the course of the past 5 years.

The SBWC Chairperson remarked that in 2017, the organization had set up an independent one-stop-shop service to streamline apps made by female entrepreneurs, and fast-track licenses, visas, and permits from the Sharjah Economic Development Department. In the same year, it also started the SBWC Mobile App. Several associations were contracted with a host of government entities in 2018 while 2019 marked the launch of SBWC Talk Series, SBWC Tours and Outreach University.

Promoting women to excel in business

The Council’s purpose to strengthen Sharjah as a business-friendly destination for female entrepreneurs and business owners, and to enable women professionally and economically by nurturing entrepreneurship, SBWC has been giving various forms of economic assistance to facilitate growth and success of female-owned businesses.

New challenges by COVID-19

In the wake of the eruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in adherence to the prudent health safety laws forced by the UAE government, SBWC introduced five distinct initiatives to promote its members to continue developing their business acumen and to stay associated with businesswomen across Sharjah and beyond. Therefore, leveraging the power of technology, SBWC’s brand-new initiatives were begun on a virtual platform. These include: #SBWCTours, #SBWCEntrepreneursTips, #SBWCReads, #SBWCDictionary, and ‘SBWC Mentors’.

SBWC has also organized virtual workshops for its members traversing assorted industries and quarters, namely The Use of Colour, E-commerce, and Digital Marketing.