Virtual Event

2 MAY 2023 | 2.00 PM GST

The Awards

As a celebration of women business leaders across the Middle East and Africa, Mastercard has partnered with Entrepreneur Middle East to present the second edition of Women SME Leaders Awards.

The awards will recognize and further empower women-owned and run SMEs across the Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa. They will highlight the individuals and enterprises that are shaping the future of this dynamic region and will culminate in a virtual awards ceremony on 2nd of May, 2023 at 14:00 (Dubai time).

Nominations are now open, so we are inviting all women SME leaders across all walks of life (a small enterprise in trading that has a turnover of less than AED50 million and employs between 6 to 50 people) - individuals and Organizations - to take part.

There are no costs associated with attending or nominating for this virtual event.

Good luck to you all and let’s celebrate women SME leaders together!


Industry Related Awards

This award category is to recognize the woman SME leader in the design industry, spanning design, fashion, architecture and arts. Judges will consider the projects completed in the last 3 years, those in pipeline and other achievements. Initiatives related to sustainability and environment should also be mentioned.

This award category is to recognize a woman SME leader that has made a notable impact within the logistic and transport sector.

This award category is to recognize a woman SME leader in the food and beverage sector who had made a considerable impact in that industry in MEA.This category also includes foodtech food production, cloud kitchens, delivery solutions and aggregator businesses.

This award category is to celebrate a woman SME leader in the retail sector. The winner for this category should show outstanding leadership skills, healthy busines growth and – for those with teams - creating a diversified working environment.

This award category is to recognize a woman SME leader in the education sector.

This award category if to recognize a women SME leader in the real estate or property development sector in the MEA region. This impact could include development of properties or running a successful real estate business.

This award category is to recognize a woman SME leader in healthcare who has made a positive business impact in the MEA region.

This award category is to recognize a woman SME leader in hospitality that has made significant contribution in the hospitality, and the entertainment sector.

This award category is to recognize a woman SME leader in the technology sector who has made a positive contribution to the industry in MEA – This includes running a tech business, or creating a digital products and solutions.

This award category is to recognize a woman SME leader who has made a positive impact in the professional services sector. This includes finance, insurance, banking, law, management consultancy and other relevant fields.

This award category is to recognize a woman SME leader in the field of investment and venture capital who has a successful track record of profitable investments either in commodities, stock, securities or is leading a venture capitalist firm.

This award category is to recognize and highlight a woman SME leader in the fashion and beauty sector.

This award category is to recognize a woman SME leader in the media industry.

This award category is to recognize an achieving women who has made significant contributions in the field of agriculture and/or agritech.

Personal Achievement Awards

This award category is to recognize a woman SME leader who has launched a successful business within the past 12 months in any sector. The solution that this entrepreneur offers should have a positive impact on society as well as having a financial health. The winner for this category should have the following superior characteristics (but not limited to):

  • Creativity in the solution created
  • Either has a large number of users within their target market or a significant potential for growth
  • Have created a scalable business
  • Either has raised significant funding or has a high potential being funded

This award category is to honor a woman SME leader in arts and culture who has made a significant positive impact on the arts and culture scene within the region.

This award category is to recognize woman SME leader below the age of 30 who through her talents has achieved significant milestones whether in her career, in the society and the people around her.

This award is to honor a woman SME leader who has made a substantial positive impact on society through charitarian work, help needy people, creating job opportunities, or providing a framework for a better education and healthcare.

This award category is to recognize a woman visionary –either from the private or public sector– that has led initiatives which has significantly impacted the women-run and owned SME ecosystem in the region. This individual has seen potential in the market and has met the needs before others.

This could include creating new solutions, leading an organization that has benefited the players in the SME sector, or has created policies and procedures that has boosted the growth of the SME sector.

This award will go to a woman that has made an outstanding contribution to creating an inclusive working environment and equal opportunities for women in the workplace in the past three decades and has helped women to break the glass ceiling. This is also referred to as the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Small Size Businesses Award

This award category is to recognize a company business led or founded by a woman and run exclusively from her place of residence and has been operating for more than two years. The winner of this category should show a significant growth in terms of revenue and the value created.

This award category is to recognize a mother who has starter a small business or is part of a small size business. The winner for this category should show significant positive impact of their role on the business and its growth.


Amnah Ajmal

Executive Vice President, Market Development, EEMEA | Mastercard

Amnah has lived and worked in 12 countries across Middle East & Africa, Europe, Asia Pacific and North America. She has held several leadership roles with Citigroup in the UK, Hungary and Poland. She then worked at Standard Chartered in Singapore and Malaysia in global retail banking strategy and consumer banking head roles. She joined Mastercard in 2015 and lead the product and innovation organization in North America and now heads market development for EEMEA.

She was honored to be listed as the top 100 women in Fintech, across the globe, for 2019 by Lattice80 and recognized as the top 25 women leaders in financial technology by the Financial Technology Report US for 2019 & 2020. She was recently recognized as the top 100 women in fintech for 2021 by IBM & Fintech magazine.She also holds the honor of being in America’s top 10 women in Fintech by the Fintech Magazine for 2020.

She holds a master’s degree from London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE).

Nezha Alaoui

CEO, Women Choice, social innovator, author, and influencer

She founded Women Choice, an international organization that offers networking opportunities and training to high-level female professionals with the aim of addressing the gender gap in the private sector, and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Launched in 2018 in New York, the company has since expanded into the Middle East.

Previously, Nezha established the award-winning Mayshad Foundation, an international NGO that develops social impact projects for women and youth in underprivileged communities. She also set up Mayshad Group, a consultancy firm for corporate and institutional clients in African, Middle Eastern, and US markets.

Nezha started her career leading a mission for the United Nations and the World Food Programme (WFP) across five countries. She is the author of Be A Leader: Be Who You Want to Be and Moroccan Sahara: Land of Inspiration. In addition, she co-authored Women: Secrets of Moroccan Sahara with Emmanuel Dierkx de Casterlé.

Tamara Pupic

Managing Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Tamara Pupic is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Middle East magazine, a division of Dubai-based BNC Publishing officially licensed by the US-based publication Entrepreneur, where she focuses on editorial content development and cultivating fresh ideas that continue to promote the Entrepreneur Middle East brand both regionally and globally. She holds a bachelor's law degree and a master’s degree in international law and economics (M.I.L.E.) from the World Trade Institute in Bern (Switzerland).

In 2020, Tamara launched a series of interviews with women leaders entitled "Against All Odds” within the Entrepreneur Middle East Live series, featuring the only Indian woman on Forbes' list of the World’s Self-Made Women Billionaires Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Oscar nominated and BAFTA award-winning filmmaker Farah Nabulsi, Intisar Foundation founder Her Highness Sheikha Intisar AlSabah, co-founder of Thrive Global Agapi Stassinopoulos, the first Arab woman to climb Mount Everest Suzanne Al Houby, social media influencer and TV host Joelle Mardinian, among many others.

Judging criteria

Mastercard will be the chair of the judging committee. Shortlisted companies will be vetted by the Entrepreneur team and then passed onto the judging committee. Each judge will independently evaluate the shortlisted candidates and the scores will be shared with all the other judges. The winners will be decided by a vote; in case of a draw, Mastercard will choose the winner.


  • Individuals may win more than one category.
  • The judges or individuals within the judge’s company can’t nominate.
  • All the businesses or the individuals nominated should either have their headquarters/offices in the Middle East, Africa or Eastern Europe regions.

Judging Process

Each judge will receive a scoring sheet for each of the shortlisted nominees. Each of the categories has different sets of criteria and the judges need to score each item from 1-10 and choose the winner.

The suggested winners by each of the judges will be sent to Mastercard.

Mastercard has the final say on the winners and can veto nominees.


Submit Your Nominations Here

  • To submit a nomination, click on the "SUBMIT NOMINATIONS" button below
  • You'll be then directed to a form where you need to fill in all of the requested fields
  • Answer all of the required questions as clearly and concisely as possible
  • Please also include a statement of not more than 1000 words on why you deserve to win the award
  • If you'd like to send documents supporting your nomination, collate them in a single PDF file not larger than 10MB and email it to
  • You will receive a confirmation once your nomination has been received.
  • Any further queries can be e-mailed to the address above

Contact us

Mahdi Hashemi


Phone: +971 4 420 0506

Mobile: +971 50 700 6964

Simona Sutaviciute


Mobile: +971 58 588 3966