Spotlight Session

All spotlight sessions are included in registration and are part of a program of 400+ presentations, panels, roundtables, and workshops offered at the conference.

Middle Eastern Women Entrepreneurial Leaders Thriving During Crisis

MONDAY, 9 NOVEMBER, 9:30 to 10:45 EST

People in the Middle East always dream of a future with less challenges. But in reality challenges are increasing, political and economic. Not to mention the latest COVID 19 global pandemic which hit many women owned businesses all over the world. We highlight in this session women leaders and change makers who have the resilience to lead, sustain, pivot, and rebuild their businesses and communities during the pandemic. They come to share their experiences and lessons learned on how to lead effectively in times of crisis.

Laraib Abid 

Executive Director & Founder, MASHAL

Nour AlHassan

Founder & CEO, Tarjama and Ureed

Hadeel Mustafa Anabtawi

Founder & CEO, The Alchemist Lab in Jordan

May Abdel Asim 

Founder & Managing Director, Media & More

Aline Kamakian 

Owner & CEO, Fig Holding

Joanne Barnes

Dean, Graduate School, Indiana Wesleyan University

Learn more about the speakers
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+ Laraib Abid

I am a Teacher, Activist, trainer, Entrepreneur and a businesswoman.

I did my MPhil in Gender Studies and founded a health campaign MASHAL. Recently I have developed Pakistan's First Mobile Application Bridge The GAP (Giving Access to Planning) which spreads awareness about HIV/AIDS regarding its symptoms and treatment and Contraceptive methods for both men and women. The main component of the application is the Geo-fenced Family Planning services available nearby for free, just a click away. Along-with it, Psychologists centers providing counselling to young people for free of cost are also included with their phone numbers. I am a Family Planning Leader 120under40 by Gates Institute. I won an idea under Ingenuity Fund by Gates institute 2019 and got an invitation as a Panelist in Family Planning Convening and participant to attend Global Health Accelerator Training in John Hopkins University by Gates Institute in USA in 2019.

I want to be a leader in the field of Sexual and reproductive rights because I love taking challenges to burst bubbles of myths while creating innovative solutions. A lot of stories of my friends’ suffering is my inspiration to do something so that there's no next suffering in SRH among young people. Using technological means, I hope to create a change in the lives of young people providing authentic literature and access to free services with privacy, confidentiality and efficiency.

I love spending time with young people sharing how they can come out of their comfort zones to bring out positive change in the society and motivating them to play their part as a responsible citizen too. Bridge The GAP (Giving Access to Planning) is awarded as one of the promising Family planning practices by Punjab Population Innovation Fund (Govt.). I teach at University of the Punjab for Gender Studies, Reproductive health and Sociology.

+ Nour AlHassan

Nour, a serial entrepreneur, is the founder and CEO of Tarjama, a leading language service provider based in the MENA. Building on Tarjama’s success and recognising the need for a more flexible model for sourcing linguistic talent, Nour launched Ureed, a digital linguistic freelance platform. She has recently completed an Executive Programme at Singularity University, focusing on innovation and technology, and holds a Bachelor degree in law from the Al-Ahlia University in Jordan. She is an Aspen Fellow and a member of the advisory board at Saint Joseph University in Lebanon.

+ Hadeel Mustafa Anabtawi

A Social Entrepreneur in the children and girls empowerment field. A certified life coach, teachers’ trainer on interactive teaching methodologies and the founder of The Alchemist Lab in Jordan. She is Vital Voices fellow and a WE Empower 2018 awardee. WE Empower is a global challenge for women entrepreneurs who leverage their businesses to advance UN SDG’S. She represented Asia the pacific for advancing good education and gender equality. She is GSBI Alumni, part of Miller center for social entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University. She also received DVF international award 2019 for her leadership, dedication, and commitment to empower young girls and women in Jordan. Studied Industrial Engineering at University of Jordan and master’s in business administration at University of Leicester.

She established her first company, Ideas for fun, in 2006 which focused on science teaching using drama in partnership with a Fun Science from Spain. In 2012, she established The Alchemist Lab as a reflection of a market need. The Alchemist Lab is a hybrid social enterprise the offers learning experiences for children focused on creative and critical thinking and STEM. The company’s mission is to empower children and youth with the future skills they need to compete in the workplace locally and globally. The company has reached more than 40,000 children from cities, less fortunate areas, and refugees camps, with optimistic plans to reach more children in Jordan and the region.

In 2019, the company introduced its activities and innovative space in AlZaatari Syrian refugees camp in Jordan in collaboration with UNHCR and Blumont with a vision to impact more than 25,000 refugees’ children at the camp. The company started to offer blended learning solution post COVID 19 with an up-to-date STEM learning experiences addressed to Arab children worldwide. She also launched many initiatives that empower children and girls, one of which is “Go Girls!” a program that encourages girls towards STEM and scientific thinking and aims to close the gender gap in STEM careers.

In addition, she launched a 10 minutes radio segment addressed to children called “Everything is possible” which aimed to address life challenges and empower children. She is an advocate for young girls and women empowerment in Jordan and serves as a board member in Business and professional women association in Jordan.

+ May Abdel Asim

May Abdel Asim looks back on 19 years of work experience of which 14 years as an entrepreneur, founding and managing the boutique creative agency Media and More as well as two respected publications, What Women Want...Magazine and The Travel Mag.

With the launch of “What Women Want...Magazine” in 2006 she entered the field of media and publishing and established Mindfood Publications, and launched the only travel magazine in Egypt in 2010 named THE TRAVEL MAG.

Media and More is now a full-service digital media agency and creative boutique serving various reputable clients from different business sectors in terms of social media handling, online marketing, design and development as well as content creation and viral video production since 2009.

With a degree in Mass Communications specialized in Integrated Marketing Communications, she began her career in marketing research and held various marketing posts ranging from telecommunications to FMCGs at local and multi-national companies until she founded her own business in 2006. In her free time, she engages in diverse community work and social projects and is a mother of two girls.

She is a VV Grow MENA Fellow, VV Global Network Leader and a TedxCairoWomen 2016 Speaker. She has been appointed the WED Egypt Ambassador for 2016 to 2018 (Women Entrepreneurship Day) creating a network of female entrepreneurs in Egypt. She is the Founder of Hanefra7 Biki Emta, a movement by What Women Want...Magazine promoting female entrepreneurship and women empowerment. She is also the founder of Mish Asthma, a movement supporting under privileged children with Asthma in Egypt.

+ Aline Kamakian

A food passionate, Aline Kamakian began her career as an insurance broker at the age of 18 to put herself into college. Graduated from Université Saint Joseph with a double major in Masters in Finance and Marketing, Aline’s skills as an insurance broker allowed her to build one of Lebanon’s top 9 Brokerage Firms IIC – Insurance and Investment Consultant.

All through her successes, Aline never forgot her love for food but most importantly she never forgot her Armenian roots!

She opened in June 2003 “Mayrig” an avant guardiste traditional Armenian restaurant to introduce to all those who appreciate homely, healthy and tasty food, the forgotten flavors of Ancient Armenia.

Since then, Aline has ventured into new concepts, catering in 2004, Batchig in 2013, Made by Mayrig in 2014. She opened new branches of Mayrig in Dubai in 2013 and in Riyadh in 2016. Mayrig’s flagship reached the Maldives in 2017 and hit home to Yerevan, Armenia in 2018. More projects are to see light by the turn of the years…

Aline concentrated most of the years 2010 and 2011 to co-writing her first cook book “Armenian Cuisine” where her research for traditional recipes took her on a journey to Cilicia, present day Eastern Turkey, the ancient Armenia that her grandparents fled following the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

In 2020 and after the massive blast that hit Beirut and destroyed too many lives and businesses including Mayrig, Aline founded ‘Sawa’ a community kitchen based at Batchig’s premises to cook and feed more than 2,500 persons affected by the blast.

Aline was also voted Women Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 in the BLA – Brilliant Lebanese Awards organized by BLC bank. She is a board member of the Lebanese Franchise Association as well as a board member of the LLWB – Lebanese League of Woman in Business and a successful candidate of the 2014 Vital Voices Fellowship Program.

+ Joanne Barnes

Dr. Joanne Barnes, is the Dean of the Graduate School and a Professor in the Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership program, Department of Leadership Studies at Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU).

Dr. Barnes is a certified trainer/coach in the Inclusive Behaviors Inventory, Intercultural Effectiveness Scale, Cultural Intelligence, and Global Competency Inventory. She also holds certifications from Aperian Global in the areas of GlobeSmart Profile Assessment, GlobeSmart Team Assessment, and GlobalSmart Leadership Assessment. She is also working with universities and businesses in providing assessments and coaching to prepare students, faculty, administrators and business leaders for global assignments as well as multicultural experiences.

Dr. Barnes serves on the board of trustees for Houghton College in New York and is also a board member for the International Leadership Association. She is currently working the 2019 United Nations WE Empower winners as a “master leadership coach” and served as leadership coach for the 2018 UN WE Empower winner from Jordan.

Dr. Barnes’ research is in the area of women leadership and intersectionality, unconscious bias and inclusion, multicultural leadership and intelligences, and mentoring. She has presented at several top conferences on leadership and has publications on women and leadership, cultural intelligence, and global leadership to name a few. She is also on the editorial review board of several top journals and scholarly books.

She currently teaches advance global leadership theory, globalization and multiculturalism theory and leadership colloquium courses at Indiana Wesleyan University in their Ph.D. program. Dr. Barnes earned her doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Indiana Wesleyan University and her post-doctorate degree in Advanced Global Leadership Studies from San Jose State University.

Thank You for Sponsoring!

Builder Sponsors

Antioch University – Graduate School of Leadership and Change 

Aperian Global 

Indiana Tech, Ph.D. in Global Leadership

Friend Sponsors

Emerald Group Publishing

Alliant International University

Book Launchers

College of Education at Seattle University

Ivey Publishing

Contact Bridget Chisholm at or +1.202.470.4818 x103 to discuss your sponsorship, advertisement, or hosted reception today.

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