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Afnan Al Zayani

Leadership in Public Life, 2010

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Focus Areas

Women Entrepreneurship

Afnan Al Zayani is the president of Al Zayani Commercial Services; leads the BBS; and is head of the Coordination and Follow-up Committee. She is a highly visible leader, representing the BBS in a variety of forums. From the outset, the leadership of Afnan Al Zayani was instrumental in setting the agenda and tone of BBS programs. Beginning with basic business programs, the BBS event series grew to focus on areas related to advocacy and the organization took a highly collaborative approach to engage other groups and reached over 900 attendees. Alzayani has worked for twenty-seven years in the entrepreneurship community of Bahrain. Currently, she is the President and Proprietor of Al Zayani Commercial Services W.L.L., in the Office Automation Division. She has served on the boards of the Bahrain Businessmen’ s Association, Bahrain Businesswomen Society, and the Bahrain National Competitiveness Council. She represented the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Committee for the H.H. Shaikha Sabika Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa Award for Women’ s Empowerment, and has received the Ministry of Education Honors Award, the National Achievement Award, and the Best Business Professional in the Middle East Award. Additionally, she has been featured in many cook books, on many cooking shows, and has been a judge at many major food competitions.

In 2009, Afnan was elected to be the President of the MENA Businesswomen’ s Network, a partnership between local businesswomen’s organizations across the Middle East and North Africa, Vital Voices and MEPI. The goal of the partnership is to build a network of businesswomen in the MENA region in order to expand the number of women in business, to increase the value of their businesses, to advance the role of women in society, and to promote a regional culture of women’s entrepreneurship. She is also an active civil society leader and has been engaged in the movement to develop a family code in Bahrain. Her involvement, and the involvement of fellow business women, helped to elevate the cause. In 2009, a family code for the Sunni community in Bahrain was passed.

When asked about how a network of businesswomen can impact the society, she responded “We are all businesswomen. But we are women first. By helping businesswomen we are helping all women in our society. As a network, we should take the lead and get involved in women’ s issues at all levels. If we work to protect our well-being and our security, and our families’ well-being, we will be more creative, productive and successful, both personally and professionally.”