The winners of Ro’Ya, an initiative set up by the Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC) and MasterCard to promote female entrepreneurship, were announced during a Gala event held at the Waldorf Astoria, Palm Jumeirah. During the event, three shortlisted finalists presented their ideas to a panel of judges for their chance to win the top prize of USD 50,000 to be used towards the business.
Nadia Wehbe emerged as the eventual winner for Baby Arabia – a business that aims to address Dubai’s multi-cultural society to offer creative language programs that encourages learning from a young age of eight months to six years.
Isabelle Millasseau came in at second place for Foot Up, and Alexis Martin took the third prize for Petit Gourmet. As part of the program, all three winners will continue to receive coaching and mentorship from MasterCard as they work towards getting their businesses off the ground.
“The Ro’Ya Gala Dinner was the most anticipated date in my diary this year as it marked the occasion of announcing the first winners of an initiative so close to my heart,” said Mrs. Raja Al Gurg, President of DBWC. “Witnessing the finalists’ enthusiasm during their final presentations in front of the live audience and judges was truly an honour and I commend these ladies for their courage and perseverance for coming this far. We now know who the Ro’Ya 2014 winners are however we want to see all 72 applicants continue their journey with us as we will endeavour to support and guide them to unleash their full potential.”
Ro’Ya was launched this year as a result of a collaboration between DBWC and MasterCard that builds on the efforts of both organizations to mobilize and encourage women to participate in the economic sector by realizing their entrepreneurial ventures. The aim of the program is to provide coaching and mentorship to aspiring female entrepreneurs looking to establish new businesses. Over the course of the year-long program, DBWC and MasterCard hosted training workshops and seminars addressing the fundamental components of a business plan. A total of ten workshops were conducted by industry experts.
“With women around the world continuing to play a more active role in driving the economy, we are quickly becoming a force to reckon with. But most importantly, the success of women will inevitably spur economic success on a larger scale – for everyone,” said Martina Hund-Mejean, Chief Financial Officer, MasterCard . “This is why programs like Ro’Ya that support and nurture female entrepreneurs are so important. We are thrilled by the success of the first year for Ro’Ya and are confident the program will continue to get bigger and better year after year!”
The event was attended by Ro’Ya applicants, as well as partners of DBWC and MasterCard. In addition to the top three winners, five other finalists were recognized for their strong ideas and awarded a prize of USD 5,000 each for their businesses. The second year of Ro’Ya will kick off in January 2015.
Ro’Ya 2014 – Prize winners
- Nadia Wehbe – Baby Arabia
- Isabelle Millasseau -Foot Up
- Alexis Martin -Petit Gourmet
Five notable mentions in no particular order:
- Amira M. Awwad – MedsConnect
- Manju Choudhary – The Big Break
- Bernadette Abraham – Focal upright Furniture
- Lucille Ong – The Good Earth
- Inken Lasar – Sharing Point