Visa (NYSE: V), the world’s leader in digital payments, together with First Abu Dhabi Bank today announced Jennifer Sault, the Founder of Thrift for Good, a charity shop in Dubai that rehomes preloved clothes and items to raise funds for children’s charities around the world, as the much-anticipated winner of its second She’s Next grant program for UAE. The winner was selected at an award ceremony held at Museum of the Future in Dubai.
Handpicked from a pool of over 880 applicants from across the GCC, the winning woman-owned small business 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 demonstrated ability to problem-solve confidently. The members of the jury included: Shaikha Ali AlNaqbi, Head of Contracting Segment – Corporate Banking, First Abu Dhabi Bank; Khuloud Al Omian, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, Forbes Middle East; Carl Manlan, VP, Inclusion Impact & Sustainability, Visa, CEMEA; Houda Buhumaid, Chief Impact Officer, Dubai Holding; Wendy Paratian, Program Officer, She Trades; and Hadi Aloh, Head of Sales, Commercial Segment, UAE, AWS.
For the first time, She’s Next included a People’s Favorite award, voted for online by members of the general public. This award with cash prize of US$10,000 went to Nada Alawadhi, the Founder of The Bookshelf, a bilingual book subscription for kids.
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 in the 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 gained 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 UAE. We extend our heartfelt congratulations once again to the winners of She’s Next in UAE and look forward to supporting them in their business journey,” said Dr. Saeeda Jaffar, Visa’s SVP and Group Country Manager for GCC.
Sara Al Binali, Group Head of Corporate, Commercial, and International Banking at FAB, said: “The She’s Next winners exemplify the strength and depth of women-owned businesses in the UAE. FAB is proud to be part of a program that is proving to be so effective at empowering and elevating women entrepreneurs in their journey to success. As we celebrate these exceptional winners, we eagerly anticipate their businesses reaching new heights and making a lasting impact on the UAE’s entrepreneurial landscape.”