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TiE Women announces winners of TiE Women Global Competition 2021

Women entrepreneurs from 30 countries competed to score a grant worth USD 100,000 to scale their business

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TIE Women
Myra Arshad, Co-founder and CEO of ALT TEX, Winner-Neha Jain, Founder & CEO of Zerocircle, Farah Emara, Co-founder and CEO of FreshSource

TiE Women, a global initiative by The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) dedicated to helping women across the globe reach their full potential by empowering them with the necessary support to build their leadership skills and grow their businesses, today announced the winners of the second edition of the global pitch competition.

The program culminating in a pitch competition at the TiE Women Global Finals was held at GITEX Global 2021 under GITEX Future Stars, a show driven to fuel the highspeed expansion of the region’s start-up ecosystem and to highlight the best concepts aimed to ignite positive change in business and society. 

The six women entrepreneurs selected in the semi-finals presented their business concepts before a live panel of industry luminaries for $100,000 in cash prizes and in-kind support to scale their business. 

  • Winner. Neha Jain, Founder & CEO of Zerocircle (TiE New Delhi chapter) – awarded USD 75,000. Zerocircle aims to leverage technology to produce sustainable packaging materials and help companies march towards a carbon-neutral future 
  • 1st Runner Up. Myra Arshad, Co-founder and CEO of ALT TEX (TiE New York/Toronto chapter) was awarded USD 15,000. The Toronto based start-up focuses on creating a sustainable polyester alternative to make fashion more sustainable and ethical.
  • 2nd Runner Up. Farah Emara, Co-founder and CEO of FreshSource (Egypt – Fostered by TiE Dubai Chapter) was awarded USD 10,000. FreshSource aims to connect farms to businesses providing last-mile solutions.

According to a recently released Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report, there has been progress in the number of established businesses owned by women worldwide, but still, the number lags that of men. Worldwide, 6.2% of women-owned established businesses, compared to 9.5% of men. With initiatives that aim to empower women entrepreneurs such as TiE Women, the industry believes women-led businesses will have the same access to capital, and these trailblazing entrepreneurs will be able to create alternate paths to success for themselves in the longer run.

The competition for the coveted title received applications from more than 100 start-ups from across the MENA region, including UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman and Saudi Arabia. Forty well-deserving start-ups were shortlisted from 30 countries spanning industries such as Life Sciences & Healthcare; Fintech; Healthtech; Retail and eCommerce; Arts; Leisure; Sports; Hospitality; Technology; Media and Telecommunications; Consumer Products; Enterprise Technology; Environment; Agritech; Legaltech; and EdTech.

Commenting on her win at the TiE Women Global Competition 2021, Neha Jain, Founder & CEO of Zerocircle said, “I am beyond thrilled to have won the title of TiE Women Global Winner 2021, and I would like to thank everyone in my local TiE Chapter as well as other members of the TiE Women programme globally for this exceptional experience. I had to compete with some of the toughest and well-deserving start-ups this year, and the whole journey has been quite humbling and inspiring at the same time. My team and I have worked tirelessly to introduce sustainable packaging materials for companies to make their journey towards a carbon-neutral future. With this win, we are thrilled that this idea is well accepted, and we would like to take a step ahead and introduce more sustainable products and solutions to help companies implement initiatives that reduce carbon emissions and ultimately make large scale industries pollution-free.” 

As one of the esteemed jury members of the pitch competition, Najla Al-Midfa, CEO at Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (SHERAA), commented, “As an integral part of one of the government-supported entities to build the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region, I was amazed to see such well-articulated business ideas that could help us reinvent the wheel and operate the economy with bold new ways. Having been a part of various pitch competitions, I would like to applaud the team at TiE for organizing an initiative aimed at empowering women leaders across the globe at this level successfully and wish them the best to achieve their ultimate mission to create a more inclusive and diverse founder ecosystem.”

According to a recent survey conducted by VWS on gender inequality, nearly half of female founders interviewed said they have had to face gender bias during fundraising, with over half reporting difficulties in finding a mentor.

Ashish Panjabi, President of the Dubai Chapter of TiE commented, “Diversity in business drives innovation. Eliminating barriers that thwart the success of women-owned businesses is an economic imperative. We at TiE Dubai, with our various women empowerment initiatives such as TiE Women, have been able to provide thousands of women with the support and mentorship needed to start their own enterprise and scale it to new heights. We are and will always remain focused on eliminating the structural barriers that female entrepreneurs experience and always aim at investing in women to drive positive change and economic prosperity.”

As part of the judging panel, Fadi Ghandour, Managing Partner at Wamda Capital, commented, “The recent state of Pre-seed start-ups in the Mena report by Wamda showed that women founders represent a mere 25 per cent of pre-seed start-ups in the region. Despite the existing challenges, there are signs that women entrepreneurs are becoming more confident to start their own businesses. Today I witnessed the great potential of these women entrepreneurs, and I am sure with more participation in initiatives such as TiE Women, we will be able to have more incentives that encourage more women entrepreneurship and ease their entrepreneurial journey that ultimately impacts an economy’s GDP, employment rates and productivity.” 

Built upon best practices from local chapters’ women-centric initiatives, TiE Women will specifically result in capacity building, increased networking, knowledge-sharing, and visibility, providing a ‘safe space’ for women entrepreneurs to learn without inhibitions and judgment.

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