Empowering Entrepreneurs

Jen Blandos, CEO of Female Fusion on taking women-centric business models to the next level

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Published: Fri 29 Apr 2022, 9:00 AM

The business landscape is changing. Consumer behaviour and attitudes have changed during the pandemic on ‘traditional’ ways of doing business and the current landscape has seen a seismic shift in women-owned and women-led businesses playing a large role in shaping the future.

In recent years, there has been a heart-warming paradigm shift of demographics in the UAE corporate landscape. The government leaders have been extremely vocal about their support to female-founded businesses. The Ministry of Economy reported that 50 per cent of the SMEs in the country are women-owned and 48 per cent of women business owners are also the sole owners of their firms. These businesses employ about 20 per cent of the workforce and contribute about 20 per cent to the country’s GDP. There are also business councils set up specifically for women entrepreneurs in every emirate to reach out for support, mentorship and guidance.

But the harsh reality is, two years into the new normal and women in the business world are now more burned down than ever. For women to thrive in their ventures, they need to establish an accepting environment, and are doing more to support their teams and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

Globally, women-owned businesses make up half of the registered businesses, however, they only receive around one to two per cent of contracts. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2021, it will now take 135.6 years to close the gender gap worldwide if the current trajectory in the growth of female entrepreneurs continues.

For this sect of the society to take their business to the next level, there are a lot of societal barriers to overcome. Some of the common struggles include:

- Not getting the right guidance or mentorship

- The double-bind from the society towards their aspirations

- The fear of failing publicly

- Guilt around negatively impacting relationships with family and friends

- The overwhelming feeling to manage other responsibilities in life

- Lack of investment sources

- No role models

After centuries of being considered as second-class citizens, women across the globe are embracing opportunities to break away from stereotypes and standards that have held them back. One of the ways women can achieve personal growth, professional development and implement measures for societal change include support environments that not only help them process their experiences but also create plans for progress. Support and networking groups such as Female Fusion empower like-minded women to foster the growth of women as individuals as well as discuss solutions to the obstacles faced by them to act as instruments for societal change.

Women only groups act as a safe space for them to normalise their personal and professional experiences, discuss the problems that are unique to women among others that can relate, empathise and provide valuable help.

While women have crossed over some stereotypes, the journey has not been one without its fair share of struggles and challenges. It is the tenacity and determination with which these women have addressed those challenges that have made them winners in their own right today.

At Female Fusion, we believe every woman should be provided with the means to realize her potential. Quite recently, we have launched the region’s first of its kind business directory consolidating female-founded businesses in the UAE. Our aim to create this business directory is to provide an opportunity for these

women-owned businesses to gain visibility and make it easier for potential clients and customers to discover verified and legally operational businesses in the UAE and support them to grow. The directory offers two types of listings for those that wish to sign up — a premium and a basic listing. Those who are a part of Female Fusion’s paid membership network, known as the Fusion Circle, are offered a premium listing at no extra cost. The premium listing allows businesses to fully highlight their specialties through various channels like video, social media, product photos etc. Non-members can also be listed in the Directory — the basic listing is free apart from a Dh100 annual fee for trade license verification.

Additionally, we also organise various online and in-person networking events to support and inspire women professionally and personally, deliver masterclasses to provide them with the tools, techniques, and confidence to turn their dreams into a reality and also provide an easy-to-access digital library with information about running a business in the UAE, among other channels of support for women to grow their businesses.

— ali@khaleejtimes.com

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