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The 2014-2015 VV GROW MENA Fellows.

“First and foremost, I have passion. Since becoming a business owner, I’ve experienced a lot of ups and downs. I got this far with perseverance. I want to be an example for other Palestinian women and entrepreneurs.”

VV GROW Fellow Rania Ghneim

Rania applied for the VV GROW Fellowship as she was expanding her business to Algeria and her words still ring clear in my head. To me, these words exemplify the spirit of women entrepreneurs in the Vital Voices Global Leadership Network. They are savvy businesswomen, fiercely determined to grow their businesses, while remaining rooted by a fundamental passion to enact positive change in their communities.

After four months of rigorous virtual training, the 23 Middle East and North Africa (MENA) women business owners of the 2014-2015 VV GROW Fellowship cohort gathered in Amman, Jordan for four days of intensive, in-person training. We covered:

  • Leadership training with former VV GROW fellow and Global Ambassadors Program mentee Dalia Saafan. Fellows reflected on their personal missions and strengths as leaders.
  • Executive financial management training to equip fellows with tools to analyze financial statements and strengthen strategic decision-making skills.
  • Market analysis and networking training to understand current and potential customers and the importance of linking personal brand with business brand.
  • Business planning capped the training, helping fellows create expansion plans.

Using these business growth plans as roadmaps, Vital Voices will continue supporting VV GROW fellows with individualized technical assistance, access to coaches and mentors, and connections to partner institutions.

For me, getting to finally meet these women after months of virtual interaction was the highlight of this program. While Jordan remains the place I fell in love with as a study abroad student, I now see the MENA region as a place of critical opportunity, especially for women in the VV GROW network. By pursuing their passions through business, they create much needed employment opportunities and stimulate economic growth in the region. These women approach challenges with a graceful sense of humor and see them as opportunities to learn and grow. They view their fellow women business owners as an extended family and know that they are not alone in their challenges and successes.

As we said good-bye, VV GROW fellow Mudeerah Al Sayyad of Yemen remarked,

“People are always telling me ‘no’ – I can’t get an education and I can’t run a business. But I never listened to them. Here I am, independently traveling to Jordan to learn more to grow my business. I am ready to go home and take it to the next level. And when people say ‘no’ to me, I will turn to VV GROW to find my strength again.”