Complex Made Simple

Business ladies making a global impact

Women continue competing at the highest levels despite COVID-19 setbacks, and as we near Women's Day, we celebrate by recognizing some of those leading in major positions and businesses

Okonjo-Iweala is the first woman and the first African to hold the role of Director-General at the WTO Start-up Inochi Care developed a device for multi-therapeutic wound healing and won $100,000 Hoda Mansour, MD, SAP Egypt and New Frontiers, 26th in prestigious Forbes Top 50 Power Businesswomen ME 2021

A year following the spread of COVID-19, the consequences have been devastating for women.

But COVID-19 does not discriminate on gender, and in 2020, 8.8% of global working hours were lost relative to the fourth quarter of 2019, equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs, according to the ILO.

In total, there were unprecedented global employment losses in 2020 of 114 million jobs relative to 2019 and employment losses were 5% higher for women than for men, said the ILO. 

But women continue competing at the highest levels, despite these setbacks, and today we celebrate this by recognizing some of them. 

Read: Middle East’s first 3D virtual platform, eve, becoming a global business sensation

Read: Forbes Middle East reveals the Top 10 Women Behind Middle Eastern Brands list


Ahead of her confirmation as Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala spoke to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about her new role and the future of the WTO.

Okonjo-Iweala is the first woman and the first African to hold the role of Director-General. 

As a leader, she says that fair trade and access to Covid-19 vaccines are among her top priorities.

“How can trade under WTO play a stronger role in bringing solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, both on the health side, but also on the economic side? For economic recovery, we need trade. And also, in order to solve the public health problems, we also need good trade rules that will allow access and equity for vaccines and therapeutics and diagnostics.”

An economist and former finance minister of Nigeria, Okonjo-Iweala enjoyed broad support from WTO members including new US President Joe Biden.  

“Deep reforms are needed, and to rebrand and reposition the (WTO) organization,” she said.     

In the joint-interview with former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the two women discussed their new book Women and Leadership which looks at the continuing gender inequality in access to power and leadership roles.

Okonjo-Iweala commented: “We need to talk to men in order to change things. It’s not good enough to just talk to ourselves as women. So, the book is also for men, because men can take action to improve this.”

SAP MD among top 50 power businesswomen in ME

Hoda Mansour, Managing Director, SAP Egypt and New Frontiers (Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Palestine, and the Levant), is among the prestigious Forbes Middle East Top 50 Power Businesswomen in the Middle East 2021, ranking an impressive number 26 in 2021, up from number 75 in 2020.

“Being among the top Middle East Power Businesswomen is a testament to SAP Egypt and New Frontiers team for focusing on customer success, and endorses the abilities of women leaders in the technology sector,” said Hoda Mansour, Managing Director, SAP Egypt and New Frontiers.  

SAP Egypt has been awarded the prestigious certification of Great Place to Work for 2021-2022, following the successful completion of the Trust Index employee survey and Culture Audit workplace cultural analysis.

“SAP Egypt being named a Great Place to Work is a milestone in SAP’s commitment to developing young talent in Egypt’s technology sector, training the workforce of the future, and ensuring diversity and inclusion in the workplace,” added Hoda Mansour, Managing Director, SAP Egypt and New Frontiers.

Citi Names Elissar Farah Antonios as the first woman to run its MENA Operations

Citi announced Elissar Farah Antoniosas is now Head of the MENA Cluster. As MENA Cluster Head, Elissar will assume overall responsibility for driving Citi’s business in the MENA region

 The Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region is among the fastest-growing in Citi’s EM portfolio, where Citi has a market-leading franchise. Given the substantial opportunities in MENA, it is critical to ensure that Citi has continuity of leadership in place to build on our momentum,

 Elissar joined Citi in 2005 as Head of Citi Private Bank in Abu Dhabi. She has more than 25 years of financial services experience in the region. As Citi Country Officer (CCO) for the UAE since 2016 and Cluster Head for UAE, Levant, and Iraq since 2019, she has helped to advance Citi’s relationships with some of the most important clients in the region. In addition to her new cluster role, Elissar will continue as CCO UAE.

UAE competition for women entrepreneurs 

The Women Global Pitch Competition for Women Entrepreneurs was organized by TiE Global in Dubai and had participation from 26 start-ups from various countries including Australia, Egypt, India, Singapore, and the US.

The top 3 awards were:

 • Medtech start-up Inochi Care developed a device for multi-therapeutic wound healing and won the first prize of $100,000.

Top prize winner

• Ahammune Biosciences Private Limited, a start-up redefining the dermatological therapeutics market by carrying out discovery-oriented innovative research to provide new therapies for skin diseases was a second prize winner, awarded $25,000.

• WeavAir, a start-up from New York offers proactive end-to-end software & hardware solutAshish Panjabiions for air distribution systems that prevent the spread of air contamination and infection while saving energy and reducing operational and maintenance costs. It was won third place and awarded $10,000.

The three successful start-ups will also receive training, mentoring, and access to funding to develop their entrepreneurial initiatives.

“The global start-up economy remains large, creating nearly $3 trillion in value, a figure on par with the GDP of a G7 economy and the ratio of men entrepreneurs to women entrepreneurs in 2019 was 10:7,’’ said Ashish Panjabi, President of TiE Dubai.