Ro’Ya 2015 opens registrations for UAE female entrepreneurs

Now in its second year, MasterCard and DBWC launches dedicated platform in bid to empower women through expert mentoring

Following an ongoing collaboration between MasterCard and the Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC), to empower women and drive female entrepreneurship in the UAE, the second year of the Ro’Ya initiative has officially launched. A dedicated online platform has been established in order to accept registrations and guide participants on the best ways of creating and submitting innovative business plans to stand a chance of winning a sum total of USD 100,000.
“Ro’Ya 2014 made us realize the potential of female entrepreneurs in the UAE and we are extremely pleased to announce that Ro’Ya will continue to support, empower and enrich our community of budding female entrepreneurs,” said HE Dr. Raja Easa Saleh Al Gurg, President of DBWC. “We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to launch this initiative again and look forward to meeting new inspiring women, guiding them throughout their growth and building a network of women who will support the UAE’s growth and economy.”
Ro’Ya, which means ‘vision’ in Arabic, aims to empower women in the UAE by offering mentoring and coaching to existing and aspiring entrepreneurs who are keen to set up new businesses in the UAE. The initiative also rewards the top three winners with funds to be used towards their initial start-up costs.
Submissions for Ro’Ya 2015 will be accepted until May 30th and is open to female entrepreneurs who are citizens or residents of the UAE. Participants are encouraged to submit their business proposals to the Ro’Ya website The program requires that all entries be business concepts that are in the idea development phase only. Submissions will undergo a thorough screening by a panel of experts from MasterCard and DBWC, in addition to independent judges. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to deliver a live presentation of their ideas at a closing gala event, during which winners will also be determined.
“Entrepreneurs and SMEs are vital to driving a country’s economy – these individuals can create new businesses that have the potential to enrich lives, contribute to the national economy, create social change and even inspire community development. SMEs today represent 95% of all firms registered in
Dubai, 42% of the labour force and 40% of the emirate’s GDP1. “said Michael Miebach, President, Middle East and Africa, MasterCard. “In the UAE, women are playing an increasingly important role in driving the economy and MasterCard is dedicated to helping these entrepreneurs realise their vision through the Ro’Ya program.”
The MasterCard Index of Women’s Advancement – which measures the socioeconomic level of women compared to men across Asia/Pacific, the Middle East and Africa – concludes that there is room for improvement with respect to women owning their own businesses and taking up positions as business and government leaders in the region. This is despite the fact that women were found to have suitable access to tertiary education and job opportunities. “Since its inception, the DBWC has committed itself to nurturing leadership, offering information, identifying challenges and encouraging positive action amongst women in the UAE, and Ro’Ya is an extension of that commitment. Productive networking and the exchange of ideas and information is what leads to breakthroughs, and our vision for Ro’Ya is for it to become a premier platform for women to launch successful business ventures,” added Al Gurg.
Through Ro’Ya, the top three entrepreneurs will receive cash prizes of USD 50,000, USD 30,000 and USD 20,000, respectively, to be used as start-up capital. MasterCard will continue to work closely with the top three entrepreneurs following the gala event, and will provide networking opportunities and professional guidance designed to kick-start their business and prepare each entrepreneur for long term success.
Last year’s winner, Nadia Wehbe, is the founder of Baby Arabia, which is a children’s creative language programme offered in Arabic, Spanish and French. Commenting on her experience as a Ro’Ya winner, Nadia said: “You only gain by being part of Ro’Ya. I encourage all women to apply and be a part of it. The workshops, the leadership and the friends you meet on the way will change your life and your business beyond your wildest dreams.”
“The Ro’Ya program has had a measurable impact on entrepreneurs and businesswomen in the UAE, and we look to build on that success this year. I encourage women across the UAE to leverage the opportunities that Ro’Ya presents, so that they can enrich themselves with a wealth of knowledge and take up a greater role in enhancing UAE’s economy,” concluded Miebach.
Running in tandem with the initial application process, MasterCard and DBWC will run group training sessions in cooperation with a number of think tank partners including, emblem, RUA Digital, VentureFin and Action Coach. Individual coaching sessions for shortlisted candidates will be offered, with a focus on sharing insights into creating and managing successful business entities. More details about these sessions, which are also open to members of the public, will be featured on the Ro’Ya website