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Mastercard Celebrates Women SME Leaders in Third Annual Awards


Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awardscelebrates 2024 winners. Mastercard has announced the winners of the third edition of its Women SME Leaders Awards, celebrating the achievements of women-owned and led businesses across diverse sectors in the Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EEMEA) region. This initiative, launched in 2022, is the first of its kind to recognize outstanding female entrepreneurs shaping the future of the region.

Supporting Women Entrepreneurs

“At Mastercard, we believe when we support women entrepreneurs, we are not only supporting the economy but also their desire to solve real needs,” said Amnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President, Market Development, EEMEA, Mastercard. “The Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards is an integral part of our women’s empowerment journey. This initiative helps us generate momentum so we can continue to uplift the most impactful women changemakers.”

Criteria for Participation

This year’s awards were open to all women owning or leading businesses with a turnover under US$13.6 million (AED 50 million) and 6-50 employees, operating in the EEMEA region. The winners of the Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards 2024 include:

  • The Creative Leader: Fay Wong, Director and Partner, BID (UAE)
  • The F&B Leader: Laura Kaziukoniene, Founder and CEO, Super Garden (Lithuania)
  • The Visionary: Hanane Benkhalouk, Founder, Tawazoun (UAE)
  • The Leader of Tomorrow: Reem AlMusabbah, Co-founder, Unipreneur Inc, and Head of Community Engagement and Membership, Women in AI UAE Technology (UAE)
  • The Health Custodian: Chelsea Hornby, Founder, Elle International (South Africa)
  • The Innovator: Farah Zafar, Co-founder and CEO, Lyvely (UAE)
  • The Retailer: Pamela Lilburne Opie, Founder and CEO, Linen Obsession Textile Trading (UAE)
  • The Educator: Jessy Radwan, Founder and CEO, Carerha (Egypt)
  • The Professional Services Leader: Yuliia Fedosiuk, CEO, UAPAY (Ukraine)
  • The Fashion & Beauty Leader: Leda Di Marti, CEO, Maelle Group (UAE)
  • The Media Leader: Jacqueline Lawrence, Highlands FM Radio (Tanzania)
  • The Social Impact Leader: İpek Koç Kıraç, Suna’nın Kızları (Turkey)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. Smita Francis, Founder and Chair, Namibia Women in Engineering Association (Namibia)
  • Home-Based Business of the Year: Alicia English, Executive Director, The Olive Exchange (South Africa)
  • Momrepreneur of the Year: Farah Ahmed Farag, Founder and CEO, The Baby Garage (Egypt)

Insights and Discussions

The awards ceremony featured insightful discussions from prominent industry leaders. Aleksandra Agatowska, CEO, PZU and Co-founder, LUU Kids, and Ola Doudin, Co-founder, BitOasis, joined Nezha Alaoui in a panel discussion on breaking the glass ceiling in the SME space. Amnah Ajmal, Alya Al Zarouni, COO, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), and Mila Smart Semeshkina, CEO & Founder, Lectera.com and Founder & President, Women’s Empowerment Council, explored ways to fuel business growth through innovation and creativity. Fadi Ghandour, Chairman, Wamda Capital and Founder of Aramex, wrapped up the agenda by sharing his perspectives on the importance of perseverance for every entrepreneur during their business journey.

Mastercard’s Commitment to Women’s Empowerment

The Women SME Leaders Awards align with Mastercard’s global pledge to connect 25 million women entrepreneurs to the digital economy by 2025. The company achieved this goal in June 2023, two years ahead of the deadline. Following two years of virtual events, this year’s award ceremony took place in person for the first time at Bluewaters Forum by Banyan Tree Dubai.

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