UAE women to be mentored by professional leaders
Upcoming start-up to provide opportunities to learn and develop skills
March 5, 2014 11:54 by Sidra Tariq
The UAE is home to some of the most talented women in the world, with a number of them holding prominent positions in government and corporate organisations, such as Muna Al Gurg, director of retail at Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, Dr Amina Al Rustamani, Group CEO of TECOM Investments and Dr Amal Qubaisi, first deputy speaker and current member of the UAE Federal National Council, among others. It also records a larger percentage of female students graduating from higher educational institutions than males in the country, according to a report by the UAE Ministry of State for Federal National Council Affairs (MFNCA).
However, there is still a portion of the female population that lacks the opportunity and guidance to advance professionally, and develop skills to become leaders of tomorrow.
An upcoming start-up, The Link, seeks to bridge this gap, by offering free mentorship opportunities to professional women and female university graduates in the UAE.
“It is an initiative to support young women who are starting their careers by connecting them with experienced and professional women, who can guide them, give support and help them overcome workplace challenges that many women face, which are different from the male experience,” The Link’s co-founder, Linda Merieau, tells our sister website, SMEinfo.me.
The start-up is currently in the pilot phase and will focus on the UAE market, with plans to expand across the region in the future, says Merieau, who is also the founder and director of Dubai-based boutique firm, ABP Consulting, which specialises in corporate responsibility and partnership development.
“We are in the process of being licensed by the municipality, so until we have all of the formalities in place, we won’t officially launch,” she adds. The company will be registered with the Community Development Authority.
According to Merieau, the community based initiative aims to connect women from different industries, and already has five mentors and five mentees involved in the pilot phase of the programme. “We have women from fields such as engineering, graphic design, architecture, business and marketing. We also have a host of organisations being represented.”
The mentors work for organisations such as Microsoft, Dubai Petroleum and the World Bank, among others. “So, it’s quite a mixed group,” she says.
Aside from having one-on-one mentorship, The Link will host monthly gatherings where members will be able to network and exchange ideas.
Merieau adds that the Rochester Institute of Technology in Dubai has come on board as an academic partner and is offering its facilities as a working space for the start-up. The initiative has also garnered support from the Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC).
When asked about The Link’s long-term revenue model, Merieau says: “At the outset, we are looking for corporate funding to support the project in terms of launching and being a seed capital to get things going. We are looking to have three or four corporate partners. But, our revenue model to have a sustainable organisation is to employ a pay-for-service model, where companies would be able to send their young female recruits to join our mentoring programme, as part of their talent development and human resource initiatives.”