ITC, Visa, and QFTH Launch Initiative to Boost Women and Youth Entrepreneurs in GCC

The International Trade Centre’s (ITC) SheTrades Initiative, Visa, and the Qatar Fintech Hub (QFTH) operated by Qatar Development Bank (QDB) have unveiled the latest phase of their partnership aimed at bolstering youth and women entrepreneurs in Kuwait and Qatar.

This collaboration introduces “Small Steps to Success,” a robust curriculum designed to enhance entrepreneurial skills, digital engagement, innovation, and soft skills specifically tailored for the target demographic.

The project, named ‘Small Steps to Success,’ endeavors to construct a nurturing ecosystem for young and female entrepreneurs through personalized peer-to-peer sessions and expansive networking opportunities.

A significant focus of the initiative is to elevate female entrepreneurship by engaging with financial institutions to advocate for inclusive practices and by offering financial literacy training to budding entrepreneurs.

In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, youth and women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are becoming pivotal economic contributors.

Recent data from the 15th ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey highlighted that 53% of young Arabs in the region have aspirations to launch their businesses in the next five years.

Furthermore, a 2020 McKinsey report predicted that the number of women in professional and technical roles in the Middle East is expected to more than double within a decade, fueled by digitalization and entrepreneurship.

In alignment with these trends, ITC SheTrades and Visa are intensifying their efforts in Qatar and Kuwait to position youth and women entrepreneurs as key drivers of economic growth and innovation within the GCC.

In Qatar, the partnership with QFTH will support early-stage entrepreneurs and FinTech startups by leveraging QFTH’s pivotal role in the Qatari FinTech ecosystem.

Dr. Hamad Salem Mejegheer, QDB’s Executive Director of Advisory & Incubation, emphasized that the initiative aligns with QDB’s vision to spur entrepreneurial success and position Qatar as a formidable fintech hub globally and regionally.

This strategy supports the nation’s Third National Development Strategy and broader economic diversification objectives.

Shashank Singh, Visa’s VP and General Manager for Qatar and Kuwait, commented on the partnership’s aim to empower young and female entrepreneurs with essential skills and networks to succeed in the digital economy.

He highlighted the transformative potential of digital inclusion to spur widespread growth and opportunities.

ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton elaborated on the partnership’s objectives, stating that the initiative seeks to empower women and youth with comprehensive online business courses, networking, and financing opportunities to drive innovation and sustainability in Qatar and Kuwait.

The program is now accepting applications, offering selected participants support in identifying business growth challenges and opportunities.

Participants will also have access to an e-learning package that includes e-commerce strategies, sustainable business practices, and financial readiness—all designed to help entrepreneurs develop their businesses further. Interested youth and women-led businesses are encouraged to apply for the program to capitalize on these enriching resources.

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