The Life: The two women, both from Abu Dhabi, who had set up Jeda Al Jiouin with the aim of empowering and informing female entrepreneurs in the UAE, spent three days in Gangnam, Seoul, with the Emirates Business Women Council.
Inspiring trip to South Korea for female Emirati pioneers
Before Eiman Ghanem and Mouza Shabeeb visited South Korea as part of their Jeda Al Jiouin initiative in May they never thought the trip would be so successful.
The two Emirati women, both from Abu Dhabi, who in March 2012 set up Jeda Al Jiouin with the aim of empowering and informing female entrepreneurs in the UAE, spent three days in Gangnam, Seoul, with the Emirates Business Women Council from May 28-30.
The trip was sponsored by the company they work for - Invest AD, which has also backed their business initiative.
"Originally we planned to go to Germany," explains Ms Ghanem, 29, a corporate communications executive at Invest AD. "But when we were invited to accompany members of the Emirates Business Women Council to Seoul in Korea, we thought why not?
"The UAE and Korea are involved in bilateral agreements and there are similarities between the two countries. Besides, there's something to be learnt from every country. In fact, Korea is considered a world leader in terms of encouraging women in business."
"We never expected the trip to be so empowering," adds Ms Shabeeb, also 29, an internal auditor executive at Invest AD. "We met so many interesting and successful business women over the course of three days, that we came away feeling like we could accomplish almost anything."
Not only did they attend a number of workshops and lecturers organised by the Korean Women's Association, they also hosted a business lunch attended by a number of chief executives and high-profile female entrepreneurs.
"It was a great platform to network and we made some invaluable contacts," says Ms Ghanem of the business lunch. "Many of the women there had set up small businesses which had become very successful. One woman, for example, had developed an app for an iPad which helps children in Korea to learn English and it was doing very well."
"We also visited the Korean Business Women's work space, which is specifically designed for use as an incubator for new businesses run by women," adds Ms Shabeeb. "They provide office space, office equipment and other resources free of charge in order to encourage women to set up their own businesses. We found it really interesting. There's nothing like it specifically for women here in the UAE."
Following the trip to Seoul, the two women now have big plans for Jeda Al Jiouin. They hope in the coming months to hold a seminar at which successful Emirati business women will speak and give advice to those who are either just starting off in or considering starting their own business.
"We're interested in empowering women here to start businesses in not only traditional sectors like fashion, make-up and design," says Ms Ghanem. "We want to encourage Emirati women to work in areas that are traditionally male dominated too - areas like the automobile industry, agriculture and engineering. Women work in these sectors in other parts of the world, so why not here too?"
"And as the economy of the country expands we believe women can create jobs for others," adds Ms Al Shabeeb. "They have an essential part to play in the economic success of the UAE and this should be recognised."
Both Ms Ghanem and Ms Al Shabeeb are grateful to Invest AD for supporting their idea and funding the trip to Korea. "We couldn't have made the trip without the support of Invest AD and in particular our CEO Nazem Al Qudsi," says Ms Al Shabeeb.
They are quick to sing the praises too of the leaders of the UAE and thank them for their support in setting up Jeda Al Jiouin. "We're lucky that the UAE Government are extremely supportive of women," says Ms Ghanem. "We have the vision of our leaders to thank for that. "We're excited too about the future of business women here and how Jeda Al Jiouin can contribute to that in the future," she adds.