Women Breaking Barriers in Mideast Finance
The New York Times profile on three women breaking into the world of finance would be considered commonplace if the women were from anywhere but where they reside - the Middle East. Showing a high level of determination, and the ability to fight against a social and cultural structure literally made to prevent the advancement of women, these entrepreneurs are the definition of "doing what can't be done."
Hoda Abou-Jamra is the founder and CEO of the non-profit BioExec Institute - a firm promoting growth in life sciences. Based in Dubai, Ms. Abu-Jamra is also the CEO of Boston BioCapital (BBC), a private investment firm that supports work in the bio-medical industry. The Dubai firm BBC is the result of a successful partnership with the German corporation, TVM. Prior to these ventures, Ms. Abu-Jamra worked in the pharmaceutical industry at several corporations including Bayer Corporatin, and served on financial and fundraising committees, including one for Senator John Kerry from 1998 to 2004.
Beating the odds in Saudi Arabia, Muna AbuSulayman is making her own way as a fashion designer. After a stint in television, Ms. AbuSulayman set out to start her own business. Unlike her male counterparts that can license a business in the Kingdom in three days, she found herself mired in a year-long paperwork battle. With the help of her brother, she finally secured the ability to operate her business, but then had to fight to find funding. In addition to her fashion business, she is also the Secretary General of the Alwaleed bin Talal Foundation, previously known as the Kingdom Foundation - a non-profit whose mission is to combat poverty worldwide.
Maha Al-Ghunaim of Kuwait made the Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women list in 2008, taking her spot at number 89. She is the Chairperson and Managing Director of Global Investment House - Kuwait. Ms. Al-Ghunaim also sits on the board of seven other corporations in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, and is the Chairperson of Global Investment House - Bahrain.Continued on the next page