US supermodel Tyra Banks urges UAE women to take risks, invest in new technologies

She advises entrepreneurs to make a difference


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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KT Photo/Ismail Sebugwaawo
KT Photo/Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Thu 26 May 2022, 8:11 PM

Last updated: Thu 26 May 2022, 9:30 PM

American supermodel-turned-businesswoman, Tyra Banks, has encouraged UAE women to take risks, learn and invest in new technologies such blockchain and crypto so they can thrive economically.

The businesswoman is on a visit to the UAE Capital as part of the Women of Web3 delegation, hosted by Access Abu Dhabi, a Maven Global Access Programme powered by the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO).

The programme supports the expansion of women and minority-led businesses in Abu Dhabi. “I am attracted to breaking ranks. I want to break the doors so people who come after me don’t have to suffer. That's what drives me to work hard,” Banks told during the event on Thursday.

“Women should make partnerships, learn and invest in new the technologies such as blockchain and crypto so they cannot miss out on the great opportunities.”

She advised entrepreneurs to make a difference for their brands, stressing that difference is better than being better.

“A good entrepreneur should seek to provide something different from others. Just like my ice cream brand, Smize Cream. It is a dream that I had for many years since childhood and we are providing a difference in the flavours and the general concept,” said Banks.

The supermodel said she has picked Abu Dhabi as the first international market for her premium ice cream brand. “I chose Abu Dhabi because I am inspired by what the UAE has achieved over the past years,” said Banks.

“The UAE is beautiful, amazing and empowers women. The country has been impressive when it comes to investing in innovation.”

Eng. Abdulla Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi, Acting Director General of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, said there has been a significant drive in the UAE government to empower and support women.

“Women make up 66 per cent of the public sector workforce. We have always made sure that there is an inclusive society and economy,” he said.

“What we care about in the UAE is human empowerment. Here we are creating a platform for people to thrive. We are trying to create an environment that can make expats take Abu Dhabi as their second home,” he said adding that Abu Dhabi was committed to supporting companies seeking growth in and from the emirate.

Women in the crypto space

Tech entrepreneurs from the United States said it was important for women to be a part of crypto and blockchain industries right now because the world was building the next generation of financial eco system.

Sandy Carter, SVP and Channel Chief, Unstoppable Domains, explained that Web3 is about paying creators for their work. These include music, artwork, digital fashion, and any kind of intellectual property is turned into or somehow attached to NFTs, so that the work can be certified, tracked, and transacted on a public blockchain.

“Web3 allows creators to be paid directly for their work as the new internet is decentralised, with no one entity controlling it,” she said, adding that it brings power back to the people.

“Increasingly, there is funding for women content creators with this new technologies,” said Carter.

A 2019 report revealed that the percentage of women in the blockchain and crypto sectors, including developers, investors, and casually interested individuals, hovers between 4 per cent and 6 per cent.

Olayinka Odeniran, founder and chairwoman, Black Women Blockchain Council, said as a black woman, it was a big challenge for her to get opportunities for investment.

“But with blockchain and crypto technologies, there are several opportunities for everyone to invest and make money. Crypto is an opportunity for women to create wealth,” she said.

“At the Black Women Blockchain Council, we aim to welcome more black women into the crypto space. Women should seek opportunities so they are able to benefit from the new technologies.”

Odeniran pointed out that she’s keen on providing educational skills to African women in the diaspora so they are empowered with creative skills to become content creators.

Genevieve Bos,co-founder and chief revenue officer, Poplar, said the UAE was well positioned geographically and an ideal place to do business.

“It is important that women in this part join the blockchain and crypto sectors for investments,” he said, adding that blockchain and crypto industries require education, inspiration from prominent investors and capital or resources.

“Abu Dhabi is a big financial centre with good regulations and incredible resources. Women here should utilise this opportunity and invest in blockchain and crypto technologies. Wherever there is capital, innovation follows,” Bos said.

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