Amel Bouchamaoui Hammami
Amel Bouchamaoui Hammami is an entrepreneur and civic leader in Tunisia with deep roots in her community and an unshakeable commitment to her country. Her success in business and network-building – even through political transition – is a model for women in Tunisia and throughout the Middle East and North Africa region.
Amel first connected with Vital Voices in 2006, when the Middle East and North Africa Businesswomen’s Network (MENA BWN) held its first official meeting in Abu Dhabi. At the time, heads of women’s business associations in the region came together with a unified voice committed to social progress through economic empowerment. Amel was vice president of Tunisia’s hub association – Chambre Nationale des Femmes Chefs d’Entreprises (CNFCE).
“I got involved in the BWN because I was interested in networking and learning how other women in the region do business,” says Amel, who manages a number of family-owned enterprises.
As Amel networked and learned new skills, she played a key role in the MENA BWN’s growth as its vice president. In six years, the network has supported over 20,000 men and women through targeted programs, workshops and skills trainings, resulting in 500 new companies, expanded business-to-business connections and increased company revenues among members.
It’s the kind of leadership success that gets attention, an anathema to someone as private as Amel. “In my culture, we don’t talk about ourselves like that,” she explains. “[Leadership] is something you get through your work, through your discipline and by being involved with others.”
Soon after the 2011 revolution, the Tunisian American Chamber of Commerce (TACC) elected Amel president of its Board. It’s a position she takes seriously, and as democracy takes root, she sees safeguarding women’s rights as key to maintaining a friendly business climate. After all, Tunisia’s record on women’s rights and participation in society is one of the strongest in the region.
Amel leads a 20-member Board at TACC, and all but two are men. “I try to make women visible,” says Amel. “My role after revolution is to try to influence policy makers in creating more active roles for women in Tunisia. I hope Tunisian women will be a model for change in other countries.”