Abu Dhabi startup accelerator beckons women entrepreneurs


Application deadline is November 29th. The program will enable women-led SMEs in the UAE to identify and analyze new channels, markets and customers. It will also strengthen the operational business pillars that these companies may not have the resources or experience to build, focusing on business resilience, adaptability and identifying growth opportunities.

Starting December 13, the program will consist of workshops, mentoring and one-on-one coaching from experienced business strategists, innovation experts and mentors. It will culminate on International Women’s Day on 8 March 2023, when the finalists will showcase their achievements and companies to program partners and key stakeholders from the UAE’s innovation ecosystem.

“The US Mission to the UAE is proud to partner with startAD to advance the third edition of the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) in the UAE. Since 2020, startAD has supported 44 female entrepreneurs and innovation leaders in the UAE through this program, giving them the tools and confidence they need to start and scale successful businesses. By helping address specific challenges they face in running their businesses, AWE helps women participate and contribute more fully to local and global economies. We look forward to welcoming a new cohort of AWE UAE participants and continuing to work with UAE organizations like startAD to advance women’s economic empowerment,” said Robin Solomon, public affairs adviser at the US Embassy in the UAE.

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“The SME sector represents more than 94 percent of the companies operating in the country, with 48 percent of these SMEs being led by women. Recognizing the tremendous contributions women entrepreneurs make to the economy, AWE UAE equips women-led businesses with the skills, tools and network to focus on their business resilience so they can thrive and grow. To that end, we are pleased to once again be collaborating with the US Mission to the United Arab Emirates on a program that will help participants re-energize and shift their mindset to a new paradigm. AWE UAE will provide access to experts to gain fresh insights into local and global markets, as well as networking opportunities that will enable them to connect with potential partners, new customer channels and potential investors. Graduates will leave this program with an action plan to help them reinvent their business through guided learning and execution,” added Hana Barakat, senior associate director of startAD.

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The first two editions of AWE UAE produced 21 companies leading to partnerships and internships in sectors ranging from retail and construction to healthcare services. Two participating companies have entered into commercial agreements with major Abu Dhabi-based companies, and others have expanded their operations into markets such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

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Applicants should be female Emiratis or long-term residents, aged between 20 and 55, who are owners of a VAT-registered small business or an SME leader with influence on strategic decision-making. AWE UAE is open to all industries and sectors. Companies showing two years of operating income are encouraged to apply.



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