RIYADH: A new business initiative aims to bring together Saudi women entrepreneurs with their American counterparts, including business leaders, in hopes of building connections and creating partnership opportunities.
Igniting Women’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Saudi Arabia, or Ignite for short, will host workshops and networking events where women from both countries can share ideas and develop businesses.
The program was announced Wednesday by the U.S. Mission to Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with the Atlantic Council’s EmpowerME initiative, the American Chamber of Commerce in Saudi Arabia and Quantum Leaps, an organization for women entrepreneurs.
“Ignite builds on the progress Saudi women have made as entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and business leaders,” said Martina Strong, Chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Mission to Saudi Arabia.
The project aims to provide women in the Kingdom with resources to help them pursue careers as CEOs, investors and startup owners, so they can contribute to job creation and positive economic change.
“Ignite will bring together Saudi women with American entrepreneurs and business leaders in a series of workshops and networking events to build relationships, share knowledge and develop partnership opportunities,” Strong said.
“Saudi women do indeed aspire to success at the moment. Saudi women are driving progress under the Vision 2030 reform agenda. They are joining the Kingdom’s workforce and holding leadership positions in unprecedented numbers.
The idea for Ignite began to take shape last year, when Saudi Arabia assumed the G20 presidency, during sessions of the forum’s Women 20 engagement group.
“Saudi women ensured that women’s empowerment, entrepreneurship, economic opportunity and security were at the heart of G20 discussions during the Saudi presidency in 2020,” Strong added.
Saudi women have previously participated in business initiatives by American companies such as UPS, ExxonMobil and Lockheed Martin. The Ignite program also aims to help American entrepreneurs engage in Saudi Arabia’s economic transformation as part of the Kingdom’s broad Vision 2030 reform agenda.
“The opportunity that I see right now in Saudi Arabia for women founders, for women-led businesses, for women’s participation at all levels… there are no barriers,” said Lateefa Alwaalan, Managing Director of Endeavor Saudi Arabia, an organization that supports entrepreneurs. .
“The barriers aren’t what they used to be, but women still need access to networks. Networks create opportunities, so (the question is) how can we enable women to break down those barriers and enable them to be part of the business community.