To empower Saudi women, Nafisa Shams launches business incubator


In line with the goals of the academy and in support of entrepreneurs, who are considered the coming economic force and the key engine of economic growth, Nafisa Shams launched a business incubator to enhance women’s day-to-day participation in economic development. With the approval of the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises, the initiative was launched to embrace the dreams and skills of female entrepreneurs and to provide them with the care and support required for a successful and specialised entrepreneurship that fosters a culture of empowerment.

The incubator aims to provide a stimulating business environment for women who want to start their own business. The focus is on female entrepreneurs, who wish to begin a craft business or a commercial project that contributes to social development, in Saudi Arabia in general and the governorate of Jeddah in particular.

As one of Community Jameel's initiatives, Nafisa Shams Academy was established in 2006 in order to provide an integrated work environment for women to support their craft production. Through the academy, women are trained, and their skills are developed to meet the needs of the labor market with high quality production. This is achieved through various lines and specialised programmes such as the “Working from Home” programme, which aims to empower Saudi women by helping them strike a balance between their family responsibilities and their participation in the labor market. In 2019, 250 Saudi women joined the “Working from Home” programme, which is one-of-a-kind in Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf region. To ensure its success, craftswomen receive the required training and materials, and their final products - after undergoing quality checks - are purchased. About 144,208 items were produced in 2019.

“Out of the 2030 vision, which considers entrepreneurship as one of its key pillars, Nafisa Shams has established a women incubator that embraces fashion, design and social entrepreneurship projects which have a promising market but lack the required support. We are keen to provide all the elements necessary for empowering Saudi women to achieve economic sufficiency”, May Taibah, Senior General Manager of Nafisa Shams Academy, reported.

The incubator provides startups and women entrepreneurs with the required support through events, lectures, specialised training, consultations and guidance for the selected projects. The incubator also makes available work offices, meeting rooms, and equipped workshops to enable entrepreneurs to manufacture samples of their products.

It all began with a competition for the best prayer rug design made by Saudi women. The design was then implemented by Saudi craftswomen and the first piece was presented to the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz at the 2008 King’s Cup finals. This was the kick start for the prayer rugs production line. 500 rugs of the same design were then produced for the Royal Guard by 12 productive women only.

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