6 June 2024, 10:00am - 12:30pm | Dubai, UAE

2024 Winners

The Awards

Women-owned and led businesses are a powerful force in the global economy and key drivers of economic transformation, stability and recovery.

Mastercard, in partnership with Entrepreneur Middle East, launched the inaugural Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards in 2022 to recognize and celebrate women entrepreneurs in the Middle East and Africa region. Last year, the awards were extended to SMEs from Eastern Europe.

The third edition of Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards this year will be the first in-person ceremony as we celebrate the remarkable achievements of these visionary leaders who are shaping the future of business in our region.

Nominations are now open* for individuals and organizations and we invite all women SME leaders to participate. You must be a small enterprise that has a turnover of less than AED50 million and employs between 6 to 50 people.

All the best!

*There are no costs associated with attending or nominating for the awards


10:00 AM


10:05 AM


10:15 AM

Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Women Leadership in SMEs





10:45 AM

Innovation and Creativity: Fueling Business Growth





11:15 AM

Entrepreneur’s perseverance

11:40 AM

Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards Ceremony

12:30 PM

Closing Remarks

12:35 PM

Lunch & Networking


Amnah Ajmal

Executive Vice President, Market Development, Mastercard, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa

Amnah Ajmal, is the Executive Vice President of Market Development, Mastercard EEMEA. In this role, she leads the P&L across multiple business verticals including merchants, telcos, governments, fintech’s, digital players across 80 markets. In addition, she also heads the strategy, pricing, analytics and M&A function for the region. Prior to this role she led the North America product & innovation organization, based out of the US, creating sustainable, competitive differentiation for Mastercard and its customers by delivering digitally integrated consumer experiences across consumer and commercial products.

Prior to joining Mastercard she was the CEO for Standard Chartered Consumer Bank Malaysia. She was also responsible for retail banking strategy for Indonesia, Malaysia & Taiwan in a global role based out of Singapore. Prior to Standard Chartered, Amnah worked at Citigroup in UAE, Egypt, UK and Poland. She held a number of leadership positions at Citigroup including Asset Business Head for Poland responsible for full range of consumer asset products, innovation and distribution including credit cards, co brands, personal loans and mortgages.

She was honored to be listed in Forbes Middle East’s 100 most powerful businesswomen 2024; Arabian Business’ 50 Inspiring Women Leaders 2024; the top 100 women in fintech for 2021 by IBM & Fintech magazine; the top 25 women leaders in financial technology by the Financial Technology Report US for 2019 & 2020 and the top 100 women in Fintech, across the globe, for 2019 by Lattice80. She also holds the honor of being in America’s top 10 women in Fintech by the Fintech Magazine for 2020.

She is passionate about social empowerment for women and gender equity. 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.

Award categories

This award category is to recognize the woman SME leader in the creative industry including design, art, architecture, culture, music. Judges will consider the projects completed in the last three years, those in pipeline and other achievements. Any specific initiatives related to sustainability and environment should also be mentioned.

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. 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 and e-commerce sector. The winner for this category should show outstanding leadership skills, healthy business 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 is to recognize a woman SME leader in healthcare who has made a positive business impact in the region.

This award category is to recognize a woman SME leader in the technology sector who has made a positive contribution to the industry in the region. This includes running a tech business or creating 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 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, advertising, marketing, branding and PR & communications industries.

This award category is to recognize a visionary woman SME leader, either an entrepreneur – who has launched a successful business within the past 12 months in any sector – or a corporate executive who has significantly impacted the women-run and owned SME ecosystem in the region. The winner for this category should have the following superior characteristics (but not limited to):

  • Creativity in the solution developed
  • Either has a large number of users within their target market or a significant potential for growth
  • Has created a scalable business
  • Either has raised significant funding or has a high potential being funded
  • Created new solutions that has benefited the SME sector
  • Developed policies that drives growth of the SME sector

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 charitable work, help needy people, creating job opportunities, or providing a framework for a better education and healthcare.

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.

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 started 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.

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

Winners 2024

Contact us

Mahdi Hashemi


Phone: +971 4 420 0506

Mobile: +971 50 700 6964