Winners of Inaugural Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards 2022

Mastercard to connect 25 million women to digital economy by 2025
Winners of Inaugural Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards 2022

Mastercard has announced the winners of the first Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards 2022 at a virtual ceremony, recognizing the success of women-led businesses in 22 categories and multiple industry sectors across the Middle East and Africa.

Amnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President of Market Development, Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa at Mastercard, said: “The passion that women SME owners display is unmatched, they raise the bar higher every day.”

“The Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards recognize and celebrate these inspiring women entrepreneurs, highlighting the individuals and enterprises that are shaping the future of this dynamic region,” Ajmal added.

Winners from the UAE


  • The Designer: Maz (Mariam) Hakim, the Founder of fashion house ESPAND
  • The Logistician: Siddhi Joshi, CEO of Emovers
  • The F&B Leader: Erika Doyle, Founder & MD of the alcohol-free drinks company, Drink Dry
  • The Real Estate Leader: Helen Chen, Co-Founder, and CEO of home search company, Nomad Homes
  • The Health Custodian: Sophie Smith, Founder & CEO of women’s health company, Nabta Health
  • The Hotelier: Judit Toth, General Manager of the Ink Hotel
  • The Investor: Maryam Fouladirad, CEO of technology startup funding platform, Fundii
  • The Fashion and Beauty Leader: Salama Mohamed, Founder of the cosmetics company, Peaceful
  • The Visionary: Jennifer Sault, Founder & MD of the preloved clothing company, Thrift for Good
  • Home-based Business of the Year: Maz (Mariam) Hakim, Founder of the sustainable clothing company, ESPAND by Maz

Winners from Bahrain, Egypt, Kenya, Lebanon, Nigeria, and Tanzania


  • Wafa Alobaidat – the Founder and CEO of Bahrain-based women’s professional development company, Playbook, was named The Leader of Tomorrow.
  • Similarly, in Egypt, Gehad Hamdy, Founder & MD of the feminist initiative to support victims of violence, Speak UP, took two awards – The Change Maker and The Humanitarian. Fellow Egyptian and Founder of the multidisciplinary arts and culture company Nadine Abdelghafar was named The Artist.
  • Kenya was represented by winners Carole Kinoti, the social fashion entrepreneur who was named The Retailer. Also, Athena Edmonds, the Principal Consultant and Founder of the wealth management firm Zoel Capital was named The Executive.
  • In addition, Lebanon’s Jennifer Mansour, who Founded the children’s food company, Little Melly, was named Momtrepreneur of the Year.
  • In Nigeria, Oluwadamilola Soyombo was named The Techie for her role as the Founder & CEO of the children’s online learning community, Skooqs, while Abimbola Ogundere was named The Educator as the CEO of the Learning As | Teach Foundation, which created the British international school, Kids Court School.
  • Also, two Tanzanian women entrepreneurs took awards. The Founder of Pugu Hills Eco-Tourism, Sairis Lucia Bugeraha, was named Professional Services Leader.
  • Additionally, Thompson Reuters Foundation’s Tanzanian journalist, Menna Farouk, was named The Media Leader.

First Initiative of its kind


Moreover, the Women SME Leaders Awards 2022 is the first initiative of its kind to recognize and showcase women-owned and run SMEs in the Middle East and Africa, with a turnover of less than $13.6 million (50 million dirhams) and employing between six to 50 people.

Furthermore, the awards stemmed from the inaugural Mastercard SME Confidence Index conducted in 2021. The index revealed that 81 percent of women entrepreneurs in the Middle East and Africa have a digital presence for their businesses. This is compared to 68 percent of their male counterparts.

Also, in terms of the digital footprint of these women entrepreneurs, social media (71 percent) leads the way, followed by a company website (57 percent).

These findings were aligned with Mastercard’s global commitment to connect 25 million women entrepreneurs to the digital economy by 2025.

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