Middle East and North Africa Businesswomen's Network Convenes Unique Regional Forum to Stimulate Economic Growth

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More Than 350 Leading Women Entrepreneurs from 11 Countries Will Meet in Dubai to Create Economic Development Opportunities through Business Training and Network Connections

Vital Voices Global Partnership

The Middle East and North Africa Businesswomen’s Network (MENA BWN) inaugural forum, “Unleashing the Economic Potential of Women in the MENA Region,” will be held April 12 – 13 in Dubai. MENA BWN’s latest offering to galvanize support for the businesswomen who lead national, regional and global economic ventures is held under the patronage of H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al-Qasimi, Minister of Foreign Trade, UAE and made possible with the support from MENA BWN’s global partner, the ExxonMobil Foundation.

The Forum will convene delegations of leading businesswomen from the founding members of MENA BWN and feature several of Arabian Business magazine’s “100 Most Powerful Women in the Arab World.”

Alyse Nelson, president and CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership, the pioneering international non-governmental organization advancing women’s leadership and founding partner of the MENA BWN said, “This is a critical moment to recognize that women’s leadership accelerates development. The success of this innovative regional network demonstrates what is possible when we invest in the power of women’s leadership to improve economies.”

With more than 350 participants, the MENA BWN forum is an unprecedented, interactive, peer-to-peer event that will provide businesswomen relevant skills and contacts necessary to grow their businesses and seek new opportunities.

MENA BWN President, Afnan Al Zayani, said, “The forum is the next step for MENA BWN to expand its reach and increase its impact by empowering more businesswomen across the region.”

The ExxonMobil Foundation has provided funding of more than US$5 million dollars to Vital Voices Global Partnership to support the strategic development of businesswomen’s networks.

“Businesswomen networks are important vehicles for economic growth and help women entrepreneurs become leaders of positive change in their communities,” said Suzanne McCarron, president of the ExxonMobil Foundation. “We are excited to provide an opportunity for women entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa to discuss opportunities to grow their businesses at the inaugural forum.”

The women of the MENA region are poised to exponentially expand their already substantial, concrete contributions to economic recovery, given continued investments in education, business development, and training. Investments in established women businesswomen are accelerating an emerging trend of women’s entrepreneurship as they share knowledge, and connect with and mentor new entrepreneurs through the regional network.


Middle East and North Africa Businesswomen’s Network was formed in 2005 by a group of dedicated businesswomen. In 2010, the MENA BWN was launched as an independent organization based in Bahrain, with a growing group of 2,500 individual members in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates. Its mission is to promote the advancement of women, enhance economic and professional growth and contribute to the development of individual members and the organizations to which they belong, resulting in progress and prosperity for families and communities in the MENA region and the world at large. It has supported over 20,000 men and women through targeted programs and skills building workshops resulting in the creation of over 500 new companies, expanded business-to-business connections and increased company revenue. To learn more visit http://www.menabwn.org

Vital Voices Global Partnership is a leading non-governmental organization that identifies, invests in and brings visibility to extraordinary women around the world by unleashing their leadership potential to transform lives and accelerate peace and prosperity in their communities. Founded by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 1997, the organization trains and mentors women leaders as agents of transformative change in economic development, human rights and political participation. The Vital Voices Global Leadership Network includes more than 10,000 leaders representing 144 countries who have trained and mentored 500,000 additional women and girls in their communities. Visit http://www.vitalvoices.org to learn more.

ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of Exxon Mobil Corporation in the United States. Globally, ExxonMobil and the ExxonMobil Foundation provide funding to improve basic education, promote women as catalysts for development, and combat malaria and other infectious diseases in developing countries. In 2011, together with its employees and retirees, ExxonMobil, its divisions and affiliates, and ExxonMobil Foundation provided $278 million in contributions worldwide, of which $120 million was dedicated to education. Additional information on ExxonMobil’s community partnerships and contribution programs is available at http://www.exxonmobil.com/community.

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Margaux Bergen
Vital Voices
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