Academy for Women Entrepreneurs Search for Second Cohort in UAE
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Academy for Women Entrepreneurs Search for Second Cohort in UAE

The United States Mission to the UAE and startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based accelerator powered by Tamkeen and anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi, are accepting applications for the second edition of the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) program, following the success of the inaugural UAE edition. The two-phase online program is aimed at women-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs from any industry who wish to stabilise, pivot, upskill, and scale their businesses in a post-pandemic economy.

Aspiring candidates should be UAE Nationals or residents between 20 to 55 years old, and own a small business that has an active VAT Tax Registration Number or has been operational for at least the past 18 months; applications close on September 1, 2021. Over six months, AWE, which will start on September 26, 2021, will advance 20 women-owned UAE businesses. The online program will conclude on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2022, where finalists will showcase their achievements and business potential to the program partners and other key stakeholders from the UAE’s innovation industry.

The United States Mission Deputy Consul General Christine Lawson said: “The United States Mission to the UAE is pleased to continue our collaboration with startAD to support women entrepreneurs in the second edition of the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) in the UAE. As the world starts to recover from the pandemic, we strongly believe that AWE will empower women entrepreneurs by enabling them to thrive in challenging circumstances, and to grow their businesses in the process. AWE also will support these entrepreneurs through mentorship and connection to a wider network of entrepreneurs through the AWE Alumni program. We hope to further strengthen the US-UAE economic partnership by supporting the next generation of female entrepreneurs in the UAE.”

Associate Director of startAD Hana Barakat said: “Businesses have always operated in a volatile environment, but the pace of change has increased over time and we recognise the need to build an ecosystem around them, especially for SMEs. This program will advance women entrepreneurs through a range of customised training and mentorship, networking, and business advancement opportunities. To this end, we are pleased to join forces with the US Mission to the UAE for AWE UAE once again, and we welcome UAE-based female entrepreneurs across all industries to participate.

“The program will enable women-owned SMEs to identify new channels, markets and customers, strengthen the operational business pillars, and help them thrive in the current and future market,” Barakat added.

AWE is also supported by delivery partner Grow.Me International; ecosystem partner AmCham Abu Dhabi, the trademark of the American Business Group of Abu Dhabi; and a member of the global network of American Chambers of Commerce.

Executive Director and Chief Success Officer at AmCham Abu Dhabi Liz Beneski said: “Fostering partnerships that broaden the US relationship with the UAE, promoting opportunities for sustainable socio-economic development, and creating shared value for the local communities is at the core of what we do. We are excited to be part of the second edition of the AWE program and look forward to welcoming and supporting entrepreneurs who are dedicated to advancing their businesses and contributing to UAE’s growth.”

The first phase of the program, titled SKILL – Reimagine Possibilities, will begin at the end of September and will continue until mid-November, over nine online sessions. Participants will benefit from the guidance of business and innovation experts as well as the regional entrepreneurship community as they explore value creation and identify next steps focused on business resilience.

The best performing entrepreneurs will be selected to take part in the second phase, titled SCALE – Reinvent your Business. They will have the opportunity to engage with mentors in their industry, along with business strategists, innovation experts, the regional entrepreneurship community, and a number of NYUAD student interns, during 12 online sessions that will bring their business resilience plan to life.

AWE is a highly customised program for the UAE economy where the SME sector represents more than 94% of the number of companies operating in the country, with 48% of those SMEs being owned by women. The first-ever UAE edition of the AWE program saw ten female-owned businesses from three emirates operating across six sectors, ranging from retail and construction to healthcare services being shortlisted from over 100 applicants.

As a result of the program, each participating business demonstrated significant growth, with two securing commercial agreements with large Abu Dhabi-based corporations and others expanding their operations in markets such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Collectively, the businesses attracted over ten new clients, earned four new industry certifications, and adopted digital business models as a response to the new market conditions.


  • Francis is a junior journalist with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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