Sana Afouaiz, speaker of the 4th International HRConference Barcelona 2017


Sana Afouaiz is a social entrepreneur. After extensive four years working and covering stories of women in different countries, Sana started focusing on stimulating the economy through female entrepreneurship by providing a holistic approach to kitting women with the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to succeed their businesses.

During her travels to more than 30 countries, Sana found herself asking: How does one empower women in a sustainable way? She researched several models, and then founded Womenpreneur Initiative, which offers programs on entrepreneurship and business development for women from the MENA region:

Sana’s vision is identifying, promoting and providing support for women to be agents of change.

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1. What topic will you address in your paper? Could you briefly explain how you see women in technology?

I will be discussing about women in technology through the eyes of women in the Middle East. Through my presentation, I will highlight the hidden side media doesn’t show about women in this part of the region, and I will demonstrate how women are using technology to break the stereotypes surrounding them and labelling them as oppressed and submissive.                                                                                                                                                             Reports and statistics have shown that women have less access to technology comparing to men. This differentiation is very present in the Middle East region, however, recent moving events have shown that women are using techmology as a way to express themselves and voice their rights (Arab Spring as an example, has witness high online activism of women), and also women especially those in very conservative countries use technology to establish online business, this is very common in countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

2. There is the perception that, in the business world, there are few women specialized in technology. Is this image real? Differs from country to country?

This is a debatable reality. Women tend to be less present as top managers and app developers and tech business led women; for many reasons mainly because the tech field area is considered to be male dominated sector. I will again throw my attention to the Middle East. If you were asked to name regions where women vastly outnumber men in education, somewhere in Middle East would probably not be your first guess. Women now outnumber men in university attendance and graduation rates, according to the recent reports of the World Bank. Qatar has nearly seven times as many women as men enrolled in university, one of the highest rates on the planet. Women have made huge gains in the last decade in obtaining secondary and tertiary education. However, discrimination still hinders their dream; whilst men tend to concentrate on engineering and science; women gravitate toward less lucrative degrees in humanities and arts. Despite educational attainment, women still lag behind men in the field of science and technology, business ownership and freedom of choice.

3. How do you see the future of women in the business and digital sectors?

I definitely see more women engaging in the business and digital sector, with the consumed traditions and limitations facing many women in some areas of the region, women will invest more in developing online businesses.

4. Womenpreneur Organization is a not-for-profit organization that offers women entrepreneurs a unique platform to grow their businesses. Why did you decide to create this organization? How do you help women grow their businesses?

The main reason behind the creation of Womenpreneur is to build a community of women who are free, critical, initiative-takers, and capable of serving their communities.                                                                                                Ensuring women access to business opportunities is critical to economic prosperity and sustainable development of communities. Several researches indicate that lack of role models, low self-confidence, lack of technical expertise, and limited access to appropriate networking and funding continue to be the main challenges facing women entrepreneurs.                                                                                                                                                                                           Womenpreneur was established to fill this gap by supporting women entrepreneurs grow scalable businesses, accompany them through the process of delivering their initiatives and take their leadership to the next level.    We help female entrepreneurs in this region, by increasing their access to knowledge and opportunities. We create a space for them to expand their network, internationalize and reach new markets; and we break the stereotypes that try to label them as the “other”.

5. What are your expectations about the Conference? What knowledge would you like to bring to the audience?

I’m excited to share the unseen stories of women in this region. I’m looking forward to share the other story with the audience.


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