Visa, CIB Award She’s Next Grants To Egypt’s Women Entrepreneurs

December 10, 2023


Hadeer Shalaby, founder of Green Fashion, Salma Tammam, founder of Reme-D, and Nihal Ali, founder of Fincart, have been announced as the winners of Visa’s second She’s Next grant program in Egypt. The program, conducted in collaboration with Egypt’s leading private-sector bank Commercial International Bank (CIB), aims to support and recognize women entrepreneurs in the region.

Selected from over 4,000 applicants across Egypt, the winning women-owned small businesses each received grants worth $10,000 along with a year of business coaching from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  

The winners were chosen from a pool of applicants representing a range of sectors, including technology, business, real estate, healthcare, social enterprise, and fashion. 

A jury evaluated entries based on the following criteria: the progression of applicants’ entrepreneurial journey; robustness of their business metrics; digital presence; and those who demonstrated the ability to solve problems. 

The members of the jury included Malak El Baba, Egypt Country Manager, Visa; Hany El Deib, Head of Business Banking, CIB; Hany El Sonbaty, Managing Partner of Sawari Ventures, a Cairo-based VC; and Karima El Hakeem, CEO of Plug & Play Egypt. 

For the first time, She’s Next introduced a People’s Favorite award, determined by online votes from the general public. Nihal Ali, founder of Fincart, secured the award and a cash prize of $10,000.

Women in business

The She’s Next program is a key initiative in Visa’s commitment to bolstering the digitalization of women-owned businesses. It coincided with the launch of Visa’s inaugural Women SMB Digitalization Index. Notably, 97% of surveyed women entrepreneurs in Egypt acknowledged the increasing importance of digitalization in today’s business landscape.

The survey also revealed that 68% of women entrepreneurs in Egypt are in favor of moving from cash-dominant to cashless businesses. Notably, more than one-third of respondents (35%) found it challenging to secure funding for their business endeavors. 

Through their participation in the She’s Next program, these women entrepreneurs have already gained access to practical insights from women leaders, valuable tools, educational resources, and facilitated training. 

USAID will also provide one-on-one advisory support for the 20 finalists, equipping these individuals with guidance and insights to boost their business and financial strategies. 

“Visa is truly honored to recognize the incredible resilience and forward-looking spirit of Egypt’s women entrepreneurs, and we are more than proud to empower these trailblazers, addressing their unique challenges and fostering an environment where they can thrive,” said Leila Serhan, Visa’s Senior Vice President and Group Country Manager for the North Africa, Levant and Pakistan (NALP) region. 

Serhan also stated that the program addresses the importance of access to capital, mentorship, and a robust digital infrastructure for the growth and scalability of women-led businesses. 

“We extend heartfelt congratulations to the She’s Next winners in Egypt and eagerly anticipate supporting them in their entrepreneurial journeys,” Serhan noted.