Facebook Launching Platform to Help Women in the Middle East Build On-line Businesses

Facebook recently launched a new initiative designed to empower women in the Middle East to more easily start and grow their own businesses. SheMeansBusiness will bring together Facebook tools such as training videos and other resources to help women develop online businesses.

The initiative is a partnership with three other organizations: Egypt based Ahead of the Cure, Sheraa Sharjah and Emirates Foundation, both of the UAE. Together they hope to reach and train about 10,000 women in one year. There is also a plan to get a similar program up and running in Saudi Arabia later this year.

Facebook says that 63 percent of Saudi women run unregistered businesses and depend on their mobile phones and social media for their businesses. They state that if women’s equality could be advanced the global GDP could rise to $12 trillion within just ten years.

Facebook’s financial commitment is small, only a few tens of thousands of dollars. Egypt’s Ahead of the Curve says that, “The partnership model doesn’t constitute any financial rewards to Ahead of the Curve … the (partners) are not getting financial remuneration, except in the form of Facebook coupons to cover Facebook ads.”

Nevertheless, Dina Sherif, Ahead of the Curve founder, says there is still much value in the work.

“Ahead of the Curve got involved because we believe in the economic power of women. A lot of women are using social media in their businesses, but they are not using it properly and they aren’t using it to scale. The training program teaches them how to use social media in a way that can help grow their businesses,” she said.