Sharjah Business Women Council brings female-led innovations to the forefront of UAE e-Commerce

With a 7.7% compound annual growth rate, the UAE’s e-commerce market continues to expand


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The Sharjah skyline. Photo for illustrative purposes only. — KT file
The Sharjah skyline. Photo for illustrative purposes only. — KT file
by

Somshankar Bandyopadhyay

Published: Sun 17 Sep 2023, 7:57 PM

Last updated: Wed 20 Sep 2023, 6:19 PM

The UAE is the 27th largest market in the world for eCommerce, and has been leading its proliferation in the Middle East and North Africa for over a decade. According to industry projections, the national revenue in this high-growth sector is expected to show a compound annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2027) of 7.7%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$13,708.9 million by 2027.

Riding this wave are tech- and innovation driven business women, whose journey to success in this hugely competitive industry is being strategically supported by the Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC).

Since its inception in 2002, SBWC has gained a reputation of ensuring women’s full integration into the local economy by offering them bespoke training and mentoring, access to funding and ease of setting up operations in the emirate’s business-friendly and highly diverse commercial landscape. Today, the council boasts a membership of over 2,000 female business owners who are leading by example with successful enterprises in a variety of traditional and non-traditional market sectors.

In the eCommerce sector, SBWC has offered women-led ventures - to those that were created in the UAE and which have joined the local landscape from other markets in the region - with hands-on coaching to establish themselves, increase their market reach, sales and profits in a fast-growing and competitive digital marketplace.

Asma Ahmed Alhashimi, Emirati owner of homegrown clothing brand The Cozy Threads, has been selling out each of her vibrant jalabiya and modest wear collection since she started the brand in 2021. The SBWC member launched a website earlier this year to better streamline growing order volumes and shipment processes, to cater to her customers not only in the UAE but internationally, after she got off to a flying start on her instagram store. Asma’s eCommerce business promises deliveries of her unique, custom-made pure cotton dresses in less than three weeks to clients outside UAE.

Vanessa Hartmann, founder of Kawkab Art LLC products.
Vanessa Hartmann, founder of Kawkab Art LLC products.

Vanessa Hartmann, Founder of Kawkab Art LLC — an online marketplace for B2B and B2C buyers that allows one to buy, sell, study and evaluate works of art - is another success story built on SBWC’s training grounds. Art collectors and enthusiasts can sift through works of over 150 artists from the region, and the platform lays special emphasis on showcasing talents from different cultures and age groups practicing a variety of genres.

Masaraa’s products, founded by Hanan Jaber Elhaddad
Masaraa’s products, founded by Hanan Jaber Elhaddad

Another SBWC member, Hanan Jaber Elhaddad, is bringing innovation to the early learning sector with her eCommerce startup Masaraa that offers a range of toys that stimulate cognitive abilities and enhances motor skills made from natural, non-toxic materials.

Al Abrash Carpets’s products, founded by Hudoob Hussein
Al Abrash Carpets’s products, founded by Hudoob Hussein

Hudoob Hussein Younis became an SBWC member to fulfill her dream of taking her creative venture, Al Abrash Carpets, from Istanbul to the UAE and the world. Her sustainable concept of refurbishing handmade carpets and wool rugs that date back to the 1990s and marketing them to discerning owners who understood Al Abrash’s vision. Today, Al Abrash Carpets is a successful eCommerce rug label with a production unit in Istanbul and a HQ in Sharjah. Through her online presence, Hudoob is sharing her craft and bringing warmth and aesthetic to hundreds of homes worldwide.

Mariam Rashid Bin Al Shaikh, Director of SBWC
Mariam Rashid Bin Al Shaikh, Director of SBWC

“Technology is changing business-to-consumer interactions at lightning speed, and the trend has gained unprecedented momentum in our post-Covid reality. There is a wealth of opportunities for women in the UAE’s fast-growing eCommerce industry, and at SBWC, we have designed training and upskilling programmes that impart the specific skill sets and mindsets women need to excel in eCommerce. Needless to say, the minimum investment, maximum profit model in eCommerce business is particularly apt for women entrepreneurs who need to split their time between their business and families on a daily basis,” noted Mariam Rashid Bin Al Shaikh, Director of SBWC.

The council offers a plethora of training programmes, workshops, expert mentoring, networking opportunities with peers and investors, as well as legal and administrative support to both aspiring and established female entrepreneurs in the UAE and around the world.


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