WBN Transforms Women into Digitally Empowered Entrepreneurs


Apr  28th

Amman, Jordan, 28 April 2016 – The 5th Regional WIEF Online Marketing Workshop organised to empower women entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region was held here from 16 to 21 April 2016.

Recognising the challenges facing women entrepreneurs in the MENA region as reported in the 2009 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, MENA Regional, the WIEF Businesswomen Network (WBN) aims to support and encourage women in the region by providing them with programmes in information and communications technology (ICT) that enable them to design their websites, market their products and services online and give them the relevant tools to arm themselves with Internet marketing strategies.

The Report revealed that countries like Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and Palestine have some of the largest gender gaps in early stage entrepreneurial activity in the MENA region with female activities falling behind male activities by up to four-fold. In Jordan, the entrepreneurial rate for males is 3.4 times higher than that for females while the female share of entrepreneurial activity was estimated at 21.7 per cent compared with the region’s unweighted average of 28.6 per cent.

The WBN, an initiative of the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) Foundation, has an objective to unleash women’s potential through economic activities. It has conducted its Online Marketing Workshop series since 2012 to connect and build a strong network of women entrepreneurs from all over the world, to make a difference in their lives. WBN offers women a platform to gain essential knowledge and skills to harness the power of the Internet for their businesses.

“WBN strongly believes that empowering women is one of the smartest investments, to enable women to pull themselves and their families out of poverty, to be financially independent, and to inspire other women within their communities to unlock their true potential,” said Dato’ Dr. Norraesah Mohamad, WBN’s Chairman, at the closing ceremony.

“This Workshop in Jordan is timely as it facilitates learning and establishing a peer network for women entrepreneurs on this side of the world to grow profitable and sustainable businesses by taking advantage of technological connectivity. We believe it has not only increased the participants’ confidence in building online presence of their businesses, but also enhanced their sense of self-worth. We will continue to extend our support to women entrepreneurs worldwide in providing them an avenue to discover the latest online business applications and emerging trends in the digital landscape,” Dato’ Dr. Norraesah added.

Mr Sall Amadou Cire,Head, Trade Information & Publication Department, Islamic Centre for Development of Trade (ICDT) who delivered a speech by Dr. Hzaine El Hassane, Director General, Islamic Centre for Development of Trade (ICDT), remarked that there is a time-honoured notion that entrepreneurship is a male domain and women should focus solely on taking care of the household and family.

“But this is far from the truth. A research by the World Bank showed that women are also risk takers and are constantly reinventing themselves to enhance their economic security and enrich their communities. The study also reported that the Internet has a great impact on the growth rate of women-owned enterprises. Women entrepreneurs acknowledge how technology can make a huge difference in their success and are ready to adopt it in their business strategies,” said Dr. Hzaine.

“We would like to commend WBN for organising workshops that enables women entrepreneurs in the MENA region to improve their lives by taking advantage of ICT. WBN’s efforts have given the workshop participants the same advantages enjoyed by women from other parts of the world, and we hope WBN will continue to engage the burgeoning entrepreneurial community in this region,” Dr. Hzaine added.

The 5th Regional WIEF Online Marketing Workshop was co-organised with ICDT, an organ of OIC from Morocco and supported by Jordan-based Agadir Technical Unit (ATU), under the auspices of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The workshop attracted 26 women entrepreneurs from various business backgrounds from Jordan, Palestine, Egypt and Morocco.

During the four-day workshop, participants gained hands-on training that is focused on website and web-presence development, Internet marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques, social media marketing tools and strategies, and online monitoring tools.

By the end of the workshop, 26 websites were created in accordance to the right framework to suit their business purposes. H.E. Mr Zakri Jaafar, Malaysia’s Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was also in attendance at the closing ceremony and presented awards to participants who developed the top five websites, together with Dato’ Dr. Norraesah.

Liana Hadad from Palestine bagged the fifth prize while Tamara Abdul Majeed, also from Palestine took home the fourth prize. Meanwhile, third place went to Aya Abu Hamdeih from Palestine. Fatima Tatal Qadi from Palestine was the second-placed winner while Laila Asfourafrom Palestine was chosen as the first prize winner of the best website out of all the 26 participants.

Bayan Al-Hanini, 25, from Jordan who is set to kick-start her online home décor business said that she gained a better insight and understanding of online marketing and now she can apply the tools for her business.

“I really enjoyed the experience. The trainercreated an engaging environment that enabled us to learn the basics of online marketing in an interactive and practical way. It was also very encouraging to be with a group of ambitious and brilliant women entrepreneurs from different backgrounds, and we developed a strong bond in such a short time. I look forward to staying in touch with them and keep up with their progress,” Al-Hanini added.

Laila Asfoura, 56 from Palestine, the first prize winner of the ‘Best Website’ said, “I am very grateful for the opportunity to participate in the workshop. I came here to learn and did not expect to win anything as my Internet and computer skills were not that advanced.”

“I now realise that making my online presence felt is crucial for my business.  This win proves that dreams are achievable if we are willing to adapt and try new things. It will definitely spur me to work harder and create innovative ways to attain greater success,” said Asfoura who runs a tourism business.

The WIEF Online Marketing Workshop series have benefitted over 200 women entrepreneurs from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cameroon, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda and Yemen, amongst others.  The success stories of these women exemplify WBN’s commitment to unlocking the potential of women entrepreneurs around the world.


About the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) Foundation

The WIEF Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation based in Kuala Lumpur, organises the annual World Islamic Economic Forum, a world-class business platform showcasing business opportunities in the Muslim world. The upcoming 12th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) is scheduled to be held at the Jakarta Convention Centre from 2 – 4 August 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Themed “Decentralising Growth, Empowering Future Business”, the Forumis set to attract some 2,500 delegates and 60 role players from over 100 countries across the globe who will discuss challenges, opportunities, and latest issues and trends surrounding the global business landscape.

The Foundation also runs programmes under the WIEF Businesswomen Network (WBN), WIEF Young Leaders Network (WYN), WIEF Education Trust (WET) and the WIEF Roundtable Series, aimed at strengthening people partnership and knowledge exchange between Muslim and non-Muslim communities across the globe. Some of the Foundation’s initiatives include the roundtable discussions, leadership programmes, knowledge transfer and skill development workshops, business networking forums, internship and scholarship programmes, the Young Fellows Programme and the Marketplace of Creative Arts Festival (MOCAfest).

For more information on the WIEF Foundation, please visit www.wief.org.

About the WIEF Businesswomen Network (WBN)

The idea of the WIEF Businesswomen Network (WBN) was mooted at the inaugural World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in 2005 which  stems from the premise that women constitute a very important segment of the society and thus must be given due recognition for their economic contribution to the Muslim world.  A year later, WBN was established with a mission to empower women, optimising their potential through economic and business activities and programmes. The WBN also provides a networking berth for women entrepreneurs across the world, especially in Muslim countries and societies, thus creating valuable international linkages between businesswomen in both the Muslim and non-Muslim world, as well as widening their market reach.

WBN has successfully run workshops all over the world including:

•       1st WIEF Online Marketing Workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in February 2012,

•       1st Regional WIEF Online Marketing Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya in September  2012,

•       2nd Regional WIEF Online Marketing Workshop in Surabaya, Indonesia in April 2013,

•       3rd Regional WIEF Online Marketing Workshop in Casablanca, Morocco in February 2014 and

•       4th Regional WIEF Online Marketing Workshop in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia in August 2014.

For more information, please visit http://wbn.wief.org/

Click here for the Arabic version.

For more information, please contact:

Ida Fazila Ismail | ida@wief.org | +6019 651 6519

Waifai Lo | waifai@wief.org |+6012 209 0068