Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards reveals 2024 winners

Mastercard has announced the winners of the third edition of its Women SME Leaders Awards, celebrating the achievements of women-owned and led businesses across diverse sectors in the Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (EEMEA) region.

Launched in 2022, the Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards is the first initiative of its kind to recognize outstanding female entrepreneurs shaping the future of the region.

“At Mastercard, we believe when we support women entrepreneurs, we are not only supporting the economy but also their desire to solve real needs. That’s why we are committed to creating an enabling environment for women to fulfil their potential as business leaders. The Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards is an integral part of our women’s empowerment journey. This initiative helps us generate momentum so we can continue to uplift the most impactful women changemakers,” said Amnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President, Market Development, EEMEA, Mastercard.

This year’s edition of the awards was open to all women owning or leading businesses with a turnover under US$13.6 million (AED50 million) and 6-50 employees that have their offices or offer their services in the EEMEA region.

The winners of Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards 2024 are:

  1. The Creative Leader: Fay Wong, Director and Partner, BID (UAE)
  2. The F&B Leader: Laura Kaziukoniene, Founder and CEO, Super Garden (Lithuania)
  3. The Visionary: Hanane Benkhalouk, Founder, Tawazoun (UAE)
  4. The Leader of Tomorrow: Reem AlMusabbah, co-founder, Unipreneur Inc, and Head of Community Engagement and Membership, Women in AI UAE Technology (UAE)
  5. The Health Custodian: Chelsea Hornby, Founder, Elle International (South Africa)
  6. The Innovator: Farah Zafar, Co-founder and CEO, Lyvely (UAE)
  7. The Retailer: Pamela Lilburne Opie, Founder and CEO, Linen Obsession Textile Trading (UAE)
  8. The Educator: Jessy Radwan, Founder and CEO, Carerha (Egypt)
  9. The Professional Services Leader: Yuliia Fedosiuk, CEO, UAPAY (Ukraine)
  10. The Fashion & Beauty Leader: Leda Di Marti, CEO, Maelle Group (UAE)
  11. The Media Leader: Jacqueline Lawrence, Highlands FM Radio (Tanzania)
  12. The Social Impact Leader: İpek Koç Kıraç, Suna’nın Kızları (Turkey)
  13. Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr Smita Francis, Founder and Chair, Namibia Women in Engineering Association (Namibia)
  14. Home-Based Business of the Year: Alicia English, Executive Director, The Olive Exchange (South Africa)
  15. Momrepreneur of the Year: Farah Ahmed Farag, Founder and CEO, The baby garage (Egypt)

The Women SME Leaders Awards 2024 jury included Mastercard’s Amnah Ajmal, Tamara Pupic, Managing Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East, and Nezha Alaoui, Founder and CEO, Women Choice.

The award ceremony featured insightful discussions by prominent industry leaders from across the region. Aleksandra Agatowska, CEO, PZU and Co-founder, LUU Kids, and Ola Doudin, Co-founder, BitOasis, joined Nezha Alaoui in a panel discussion on breaking the glass ceiling in the SME space. Amnah Ajmal, Alya Al Zarouni, COO, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), and Mila Smart Semeshkina, CEO & Founder, and Founder & President, Women’s Empowerment Council, explored ways of fueling business growth through innovation and creativity. Wrapping up the agenda, Fadi Ghandour, Chairman, Wamda Capital and Founder of Aramex, shared his perspectives on the importance of perseverance for every entrepreneur during their business journey.

The Women SME Leaders Awards aligns with Mastercard’s global pledge to connect 25 million women entrepreneurs to the digital economy by 2025 as part of its efforts to build a more sustainable and inclusive world. The company achieved the goal in June 2023 – two years ahead of the deadline.

Following two years of virtual events, the award ceremony took place in person for the first time at Bluewaters Forum by Banyan Tree Dubai.

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