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Visa and QDB announce winners of first Qatar edition of She’s Next program

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  • She’s Next winner and audience favorite were announced at awards ceremony held at Scale 7 in Doha.
  • Maya Claude Habib, owner of The Guilt Free Kitchen, won US$50,000 grant and one year of business coaching from ITC SheTrades as well as US$3,000 of AWS credits and a 1:1 deep dive consultation to help jump start the winner’s cloud journey on AWS.
  • Aisha Mohammed Salim, the Founder of Eunoia, won People’s Favorite award and received US$10,000.
  • Winner was selected by an independent committee from more than 880 applicants across a variety of sectors, from textiles to education, food and beverage to professional services, beauty and wellness.

 

Visa (NYSE: V), the world’s leader in digital payments, together with Qatar Development Bank (QDB) today announced Maya Claude Habib, owner of The Guilt Free Kitchen, a gluten-free dessert business, as the much-anticipated winner of its first She’s Next grant program for Qatar. The winner was selected at an award ceremony held in Doha at Scale 7, Qatar’s first fashion and design business incubator.

Handpicked from a pool of over 880 applicants across GCC, the winning woman-owned small business in Qatar received a US$50,000 grant along with a year of business coaching from International Trade Centre (ITC), a United Nations and World Trade Organization, and US$3,000 of Amazon Web Services credits. The business coaching will be provided by the ITC SheTrades Initiative, ITC’s flagship women and trade program. The winner was selected from a pool of applicants representing a range of sectors including but not limited to textiles, education, food and beverage, professional services, beauty and wellness.

A jury evaluated entries based on the following criteria: the progression of applicant’s entrepreneurial journey; robustness of their business metrics; digital presence; and a demonstrated ability to problem-solve confidently. The members of the jury included: Carl Manlan, VP, Inclusive Impact & Sustainability, CEMEA, Visa; Georges Fouad Salem, Senior Manager, Business Incubation & Acceleration, QDB; Artii Thannki, Head of FinTech & Partnerships – Kuwait & Qatar, Visa; and Alyssa Oldani, Global Head Community, AWS.

For the first time, She’s Next included a People’s Favorite award, voted for online by members of the public.  This award with cash prize of US$10,000 went to Aisha Mohammed Salim, the Founder of Eunoia, a leading Doha-based company specializing in wellness services.

Further highlighting the increasing focus on sustainability in today’s local business landscape, most of the She’s Next applicants showcased sustainable business practices. In fact, based on the SMB Digitization Index commissioned by Visa to support the She’s Next program, all the women entrepreneurs surveyed across GCC (100%) acknowledged the increasing importance of sustainability in the current business landscape, indicating their commitment to reduce waste, recycle products (45%), and minimize plastic usage (51%).

Through their participation in the She’s Next program, these women entrepreneurs have already had access to practical insights from women leaders, valuable tools, educational resources, and facilitated trainings. This includes access to AWS Connected Community and ITC SheTrades Initiative’s “Elevate Your Business” training program. Visa and ITC will also provide one-to-one advisory support for 30 finalists – equipping these individuals with the guidance and insights to boost their business and financial strategies.

“In a world where women-owned small businesses consistently demonstrate their resilience and future-forward optimism, Visa is proud to acknowledge and support these trailblazing female entrepreneurs in Qatar. We extend our heartfelt congratulations once again to the winners of She’s Next in Qatar and look forward to supporting them in their business journey,” said Shashank Singh, Visa’s VP and General Manager for Qatar and Kuwait.

Remarking on the prospects of the program, Dr. Hamad Mejegheer, Executive Director of Advisory and Incubation at QDB, said, “Congratulations to the winners of Qatar’s first She’s Next Grant Program, and thank you to Visa and AWS for their commitment towards empowering these remarkable women in business. Qatar has one of the highest numbers of women-owned businesses in the region, with a large population of female entrepreneurs in leadership and operational positions driving successful businesses. This collaboration and all the applications received for consideration reflect the potential of Qatar’s innovative and entrepreneurial community, and linkages with regional and international partners are an important part of supporting that community. QDB is dedicated to creating and facilitating access to finance, markets and capacity-building to bolster Qatar’s SME infrastructure and contribute towards the country’s economic diversification and financial inclusion goals.”

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