Dubai Business Women Council and MasterCard partner to launch Ro’Ya

January 29, 2014 12:12 pm

Inspired by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to encourage entrepreneurship in the country, Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC), part of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and MasterCard today launched Ro’Ya (‘Vision’ in Arabic), an exciting new initiative aimed at driving entrepreneurship amongst women in the UAE.

Ro’Ya is a result of a recently announced collaboration between DBWC and MasterCard that builds on the efforts of both organizations to mobilize and encourage women to participate in the economic sector by realizing their entrepreneurial ventures. The aim of the program is to provide coaching and mentorship to aspiring female entrepreneurs looking to establish new businesses.

“The success and growth of SMEs are vital indicators of any country’s economic progress and it is imperative that every effort is made to encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship and nurture budding entrepreneurs,” said Michael Miebach, President, Middle East and Africa, MasterCard. “Women in the UAE are playing an increasingly important role in driving the economy, and we remain committed to helping them realize their business vision. Ro’Ya will give women across the UAE a real opportunity to pursue their dreams while also enabling them to support the country’s economy, resulting in long-term benefits for them, their families, and their societies”.

The MasterCard Index of Women’s Advancement, which measures the socioeconomic level of women compared to men across Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, has shown that while more women have access to tertiary education and job opportunities, there is still room for improvement, especially when it comes to women owning their own businesses and taking up positions as business and government leaders in the region. In fact, according to the Carnegie Endowment Centre, around 95 percent of the private sector in the Middle East and North Africa region is owned by SMEs; however, the same report says that only 2.5 per cent of these are owned by women. This pales in comparison to figures from the International Finance Corporation which suggests that, on a global scale, 37 per cent of global enterprises are women-owned.

“The DBWC is invested in strengthening the bond between business and professional women in the UAE, and Ro’Ya is our opportunity to continue in this light. We aim to encourage leadership and advocate responsible action, while identifying key issues, offering information, and pooling our resources to ensure the well-being of women as entrepreneurs and members of the workforce. Our vision is for Ro’Ya to become a superior networking platform, that will improve opportunities through the exchange of knowledge and expertise, serving as a catalyst for positive action through Collective Community Advocacy,” said Mrs. Raja Easa Al Gurg, President, DBWC.

Through Ro’Ya, aspiring and existing female entrepreneurs who are either citizens or residents of the UAE will be encouraged to submit their business proposals through a dedicated microsite on, where necessary information regarding the proposed venture will need to be shared. Entries should represent concepts that are in the idea development phase but which have not been implemented yet. The submissions will then undergo exhaustive screening by a joint panel of experts from MasterCard and DBWC, as well as independent judges, and shortlisted candidates will be invited to a live presentation of their ideas at a closing gala event, during which the winners will be determined.

The top three women entrepreneurs will receive a cash prize of USD 50,000, USD 30,000 and USD 20,000 respectively to be used towards start-up costs. In addition, five candidates will also receive USD 5,000 each. MasterCard will also continue to work very closely with the top winners, after the competition is over, to provide professional guidance and relevant networking opportunities that will kick-start their businesses and prepare them for long term-success.

“As the President of the DBWC, as a businesswoman, and most importantly as a woman, I encourage my fellow businesswomen across the UAE to embrace this opportunity to succeed. Ro’Ya will provide you with the essential knowledge to start and manage an enterprise, to become a contributor to your own personal success, and to be an integral part of the UAE’s vibrant business culture and economy,” concluded Mrs. Al Gurg.

Running alongside the application process, MasterCard and DBWC will organize a series of group training sessions open for applicants and members of the public, as well as individual coaching sessions for shortlisted candidates, to share insights into creating and managing successful business entities. More details of these sessions will be featured on the Ro’Ya micro site.

Zelda Hyman, Director of PR, Marketing & Events
Creative Brands International
T: +971 55 5681105