Economic Empowerment Award, 2013
Manal Zraiq is a Palestinian businesswoman leading one of the most innovative projects in the Middle East, and an influential figure in national, regional, and international groups that promote women business leaders.
As a partner and General Director of Massar Associates, a private consulting firm that promotes sustainable economic development in Palestine, she oversees financial operations and project implementation, and manages the day-to-day business. Manal rose from being an office manager when the firm’ s owner gave her the choice of a pay raise – or less money and a share in the equity. She took the latter, and has never regretted it.
Today she is a key figure in the Rawabi project, the first planned city in Palestine and the largest private sector undertaking in Palestinian history. The vast undertaking will address housing shortages and unemployment by housing 40,000 people in 23 neighborhoods once complete. It is also addressing Palestine’ s massive unemployment (over 23%), creating between 8,000 and 10,000 jobs in the construction stage and between 3,000 and 5,000 permanent jobs for the residents of the city.
Her drive and energy have helped to build multiple businesses, get a massive new development off the drawing board and onto the ground, and create new bonds between businesswomen from across the Middle East. “I like to work 24 hours a day. Otherwise I get bored,” she laughs. “I don’t like having slack time.”
Manal continues to go beyond her own career success to promote economic empowerment and entrepreneurship for other Palestinian women as well. Manal knows the value of mentorship and shares her lessons learned with staff and budding entrepreneurs. She is also a founding member and former Chairperson of the Palestinian Business Women Forum (BWF), the Palestinian hub of the Middle East North Africa Businesswomen’ s Network. The organization was established in 2006 with Vital Voices support and has grown from a small, all-volunteer organization into a highly respected resource for women leaders seeking to establish and grow their businesses. Its mission is to strengthen the role of businesswomen as leaders in the Palestinian economy through advocacy, networking, and the provision of business services.
Manal is a visionary with the determination to bring her ideas to life. A leader in a male-dominated industry in a complex political and social environment, she has always risen to challenges and established herself as a key voice. She steps up time and time again with creative solutions, innovative ideas, and a strong commitment to advancing inclusive progress and economic opportunity in Palestine and beyond.