Mastercard announces the winners of the 2024 Women’s SME Awards

The awards ceremony honored the achievements of women changing the world across sectors across Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa

Mastercard has announced the winners of the third edition of the Women SME Leaders Awards, celebrating the achievements of women-led and women-owned businesses across sectors in the Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (EEMEA) region.

The Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards competition, launched in 2022, is the first initiative of this type aimed at recognizing outstanding women entrepreneurs shaping the future of the region.

“At Mastercard, we believe that by supporting women entrepreneurs, we support not only the economy, but also their desire to solve real needs. That’s why we are committed to creating an enabling environment in which women can realize their potential as business leaders. The Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards are an integral part of our journey to empower women. This initiative helps us build momentum so we can continue to support the most influential women making change,” said Amnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President, Market Development, EEMEA and Mastercard.

This year’s edition of the awards was open to all women who own or run companies with a turnover of less than USD 13.6 million (AED 50 million) and employing from 6 to 50 employees, which have offices or offer their services in the EEMEA region.

The winners of the Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards 2024 are:

  1. Creative Leader: Fay Wong, Director and Partner, BID (UAE)
  2. F&B leader: Laura Kaziukoniene, founder and CEO of Super Garden (Lithuania)
  3. Visionary: Hanane Benkhalouk, Founder, Tawazoun (UAE)
  4. Leader of tomorrow: Reem AlMusabbah, co-founder of Unipreneur Inc and head of social engagement and membership at Women in AI UAE Technology (UAE)
  5. Health Champion: Chelsea Hornby, Founder, Elle International (South Africa)
  6. Innovator: Farah Zafar, co-founder and CEO of Lyvely (UAE)
  7. Retailer: Pamela Lilburne Opie, Founder and CEO of Linen Obsession Textile Trading (UAE)
  8. Educator: Jessy Radwan, Founder and CEO of Carerha (Egypt)
  9. Professional Services Leader: Yuliia Fedosiuk, CEO, UAPAY (Ukraine)
  10. Fashion and beauty leader: Leda Di Marti, CEO of Maelle Group (UAE)
  11. Media Leader: Jacqueline Lawrence, Highlands FM Radio (Tanzania)
  12. Social Impact Leader: İpek Koç Kıraç, Suna’nın Kızları (Türkiye)
  13. Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr Smita Francis, Founder and President of the Namibia Association of Women in Engineering (Namibia)
  14. Home Business of the Year: Alicia English, Executive Director, The Olive Exchange (South Africa)
  15. Mom Entrepreneur of the Year: Farah Ahmed Farag, founder and CEO of The baby garage (Egypt)

The jury for the Women SME Leaders Awards 2024 included Amnah Ajmal from Mastercard, Tamara Pupic, Editor-in-Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East and Nezha Alaoui, Founder and CEO of Women Choice.

The awards ceremony featured insightful discussions led by top industry leaders from across the region. Aleksandra Agatowska, CEO of PZU and co-founder of LUU Kids, and Ola Doudin, co-founder of BitOasis, joined Nezha Alaoui for a panel discussion on breaking the glass ceiling in the SME space. Amnah Ajmal, Alya Al Zarouni, Chief Operating Officer of Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), and Mila Smart Semeshkina, CEO and Founder of and Founder and President of the Women’s Empowerment Council, explored ways to drive business growth through innovation and creativity. Summarizing the program, Fadi Ghandour, CEO of Wamda Capital and founder of Aramex, shared his observations on the importance of perseverance for every entrepreneur on their business path.

The Women SME Leaders Awards are part of Mastercard’s global commitment to connect 25 million women entrepreneurs to the digital economy by 2025 as part of its efforts to build a more sustainable and inclusive world. The company achieved its goal in June 2023 – two years ahead of schedule.

After two years of virtual events, the awards ceremony was held in person for the first time at the Bluewaters Forum by Banyan Tree Dubai.