H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al Thani, Chairman of Ooredoo Group, participated in Gender & the Economy, an event hosted by World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation on Monday, 14 April in Washington, D.C.
His Excellency delivered a speech on the changing role of women in the supply chain. As part of his keynote, he highlighted some of the work being done in emerging markets to address gender inequality in the business sphere and encouraged businesses to engage women as both customers and key partners in their success.
H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al Thani, Chairman, Ooredoo Group, said: “Achieving women’s participation in the private sector has been an essential aspect of Ooredoo’s business, and I believe it is also a critical driver of growth in economies and societies. From Ooredoo’s recent research among more than 10,500 young adults in 17 countries across the Middle East and North Africa, we know that 72% of men and 77% of women agree that women should be given equal business opportunities. While this hopefully signifies a generational shift in attitudes about women’s economic empowerment tomorrow, I am calling for every business to engage women as both customers and key partners in success today.”
Ooredoo Group’s Chairman also participated in a panel discussion with Cherie Blair, Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, and Beth Comstock, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer at GE. The panel, which was moderated by Benjamin Skinner, Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Tau Investment Management, addressed the importance of men’s involvement in the effort to include women in the private sector and necessary changes for reaching full gender equality in the private sector.
Sheikh Abdullah was recently appointed to the World Bank Group Advisory Council on Gender and Development, a major global body dedicated to promoting gender equality around the world. As the first for a private sector representative from the Middle East, the Chairman’s appointment reflects Ooredoo’s ongoing engagement in women’s empowerment initiatives across its footprint, and also His Excellency’s personal commitment with these issues.
Ooredoo supports the development of human growth in all its aspects, with a particular focus on the empowerment of women. This includes a range of initiatives to ensure women can deploy mobile technology to enhance their daily lives because employment can bring gains for women, their families, businesses, and the wider community. The company has seen strong success for business initiatives, programmes and life-enhancing mobile services focusing on women in the Middle East, North Africa, and South-East Asia.
In Iraq, Asiacell, which is part of Ooredoo, researched women’s needs extensively and designed a breakthrough service offering called Almas (‘diamond’) line with features matching the needs of Iraqi women for mobile services. Since the launch of Almas line in April 2011, more than two million female customers have been connected to friends and family, becoming more socially and financially independent, thanks to their access to mobile technology. The proportion of female customers in Asiacell’s customer base has grown from 20 percent to 40 percent.
In Qatar, Ooredoo has recently signed a three-year partnership with “How Women Work”, a national community of practitioners that aims to provide information and networking opportunities to empower women, with a particular focus on female entrepreneurs, executives, employees and jobseekers.
Ooredoo’s company Indosat runs a series of women-focused initiatives in Indonesia, all with the intention of improving the quality of women’s lives through ICT. With women comprising nearly two-thirds of the country’s entrepreneurs in Indonesia, the company’s Inspera (or Inspirasi Perempuan Indonesia) initiative focuses on ‘womenpreneurs’ and offers functional training through the use of mobile technology while providing guidance for how to become more independent and resourceful.
The company’s award-winning mobile money service, Dompetku, provides working capital to more than 800,000 female micro-entrepreneurs who have limited access to affordable resources. In 2013, Indosat initiated Indonesia Womenpreneur Competition along with the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Fimela Magz, an Indonesian lifestyle magazine, as a challenge to ‘start-up womenpreneurs’ to run their business and optimize the use of ICT.
Working with social enterprise Ruma Pulsa, the company has also enabled ‘womenpreneurs’ to become sales agents for Indosat products, which empowers women living in rural areas by enabling them to become more financially independent.
Following its success in winning a commercial licence in Myanmar, Ooredoo is set to launch a leading 3G network later in 2014, and the company recently received a GSMA Foundation grant to launch a mobile maternal health service in Myanmar. Ooredoo and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women also announced their commitment to supporting women’s entrepreneurship in Myanmar at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting in September 2013. The two organisations are developing a franchisee model to enable 30,000 women by 2016 in Myanmar to become entrepreneurs by selling prepaid Ooredoo airtime to their communities. This initiative aims to not only enable women to support their families economically, but also make a distinct contribution to Myanmar’s economic development.
The IFC’s Gender & the Economy event focused on engaging IFC clients and corporations in advancing the role of women as consumers, entrepreneurs, leaders and employees and building consciousness of how businesses benefit from hiring, promoting, and purchasing from women and men. The audience included senior representatives from for-profit and non-profit organizations, bilateral and multilateral agencies, and senior leadership of the World Bank Group (WBG).
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