KUWAIT: Visa (NYSE: V), the world’s leader in digital payments, together with National Bank of Kuwait announced Yasmeen Al-Kandari and Yuser Al-Mutawa from “Seeds” as the much-anticipated winner of its first She’s Next grant program for Kuwait. The winner was selected at an award ceremony held at NBK headquarters branch, Kuwait City.
Handpicked from a pool of over 880 applicants, the winning women-owned small business in Kuwait will receive a $50,000 grant along with a year of business coaching from International Trade Centre (ITC), a United Nations and World Trade Organization, and $3,000 of Amazon Web Services credits. The business coaching will be implemented by the ITC She Trades Initiative, ITC’s flagship women and trade program.
The winner was selected from a pool of applicants representing a range of sectors including but not limited to textiles, education, food and beverage, professional services, beauty and wellness. A jury evaluated entries based on the following criteria: the progression of applicant’s entrepreneurial journey; robustness of their business metrics; digital presence; and a demonstrated ability to problem-solve confidently.
The members of the jury included: Carl Manlan, VP, Inclusive Impact & Sustainability, CEMEA, Visa, Ankush Devadason, Head of Solutions Delivery, GCC, Visa, Arti Manilal Thanki, Head of FinTech and Partnerships, Visa, and Ghadeer Al-Awadhi, AGM – Consumer Banking Group at National Bank of Kuwait, Consumer Banking, NBK. For the first time, She’s Next included a People’s Favorite award, voted by members of the public online for their favorite business. This award with cash prize of $10,000 went to Dalal Beidun from mylk ma’am.
Further highlighting the increasing focus on sustainability in today’s local business landscape, most of the She’s Next applicants showcased sustainable business practices. In fact, based on the SMB Digitization Index commissioned by Visa to support the She’s Next program, all the women entrepreneurs surveyed across GCC (100 percent) acknowledged the increasing importance of sustainability in the current business landscape, indicating their commitment to reduce waste, recycle products (45 percent), and minimize plastic usage (51 percent).
Through their participation in the She’s Next program, these women entrepreneurs have gained access to practical insights from women leaders, valuable tools, educational resources, and facilitated trainings. This includes access to AWS Connected Community and ITC She Trades Initiative’s “Elevate Your Business” training program. Visa and ITC will also provide one-to-one advisory support for 30 finalists – equipping these individuals with the guidance and insights to boost their business and financial strategies.
On this occasion, Ghadeer Al-Awadhi, AGM – Consumer Banking Group at National Bank of Kuwait, said: “Supporting and empowering women is deeply rooted in NBK’s culture. In that context, we are committed to leading the Kuwaiti private sector endeavors to create a business environment that increases the ability of national female talent to introduce innovative solutions for their businesses, especially in the digital innovation area.
Therefore, we are proud to partner with Visa to launch “She’s Next” for the first time in Kuwait, as we believe that supporting women-owned and led businesses has become an urgent necessity, in light of the pivotal role of women entrepreneurs in driving the growth of modern economies.”
“In a world where women-owned small businesses consistently demonstrate their resilience and future-forward optimism, Visa is proud to acknowledge and support these trailblazing female entrepreneurs in Kuwait. We extend our heartfelt congratulations once again to the winners of She’s Next in Kuwait and look forward to supporting them in their business journey,” said Shashank Singh, Visa’s VP and General Manager for Kuwait and Qatar.