Samar Alshorafa, Founder CEO, She is Arab, A platform for Women in the Arab World
Samar Alshorafa is the Founding CEO of She is Arab, a platform with a vision to help increase women’s participation in the workforce in the Arab World and beyond.
Our guest for today is that courageous woman who decided to step against the patriarchal society of Arab when she realized that working women were being stereotyped. We are talking about Samar Alshorafa, the founder and CEO of She is Arab. It is a platform to increase women’s participation in the workforce in Arab countries. She has also been recognized as one of the 50 global leaders driving social impact. She has earlier worked with the World Bank and the European Commission.
Samar was motivated to leave the corporate world and start She is Arab when she realized that women are stereotyped in a particular way in the patriarchal society. She tells us that her journey and the challenges she faced like getting stereotyped while traveling, stereotyped for being a mother, etc. led her to start this venture.
“She is Arab”
She is Arab is a social enterprise addressing the issue of low workforce participation of women in Arab and other countries. They basically offer solutions to other companies to address the attrition rates of their Arab female talent. They also provide individual curated solutions to women addressing the challenges they face in the workplace. In a nutshell, they have three services on offer; personal branding and profiling, professional development services, and building a community of peers to encourage peer learning.
Challenges faced by Samar in her journey of building ‘She is Arab’
Samar tells us that starting a social enterprise and creating awareness was an effortful challenge in itself. However, she believes that Samar herself was the biggest challenge. She says this because she believes that she underestimated herself in many ways. She did not see the potential she had and did not believe in herself.
Challenges faced by Arab women when they decide to come back to the workplace
Samar tells us the three main challenges, not only Arab but women worldwide face. She first talks about system challenges like laws, perception towards women, and societal challenges. Secondly, she talks about the organizational challenges. Last she talks about personal challenges that are self-imposed.
Role of mothers in empowering their daughters
Samar believes that the mother plays an integral part in her daughter’s life and it is her duty to expose her to the right environment. However, she believes that it is not solely her responsibility. It is equally important for fathers and society to empower women.
How is the younger generation of women leaders bringing a change to this society?
Samar is positive that the younger generation is going to change the world for good. She says so because she believes that the younger generation is more vocal, they care about the future. She also says that this generation is quite lucky to be able to access much more information than previous generations. Due to this, they are more aware of what is right and what is not.
More about Samar Alshorafa
Samar tells us that convincing her father to let her do a job was hard as she belongs to a business family. Fortunately, she made it and considers it to be a milestone she achieved. She calls motherhood another milestone in her life. Lastly, starting She is Arab is also one of the three milestones she achieved.
She tells us that the thing she values the most is her family. She also counts her business and the people she works within her family. She believes that knowledge is also valuable for her. Other values she believes in are empathy and courage.
Samar also gives advice to young women in Arab countries. She says:
“Use your voice and believe in yourself”
Samar Alshorafa is the Founding CEO of She is Arab, a platform with a vision to help increase women’s participation in the workforce in the Arab World and beyond. She is Arab is on a mission to amplify the voices of professional women in the public sphere through: personal branding, professional development and peer networks.
Samar has been recognized for her work as an advocate for women’s economic empowerment in the Arab World by being awarded the prestigious ‘Vital Voices Grow Fellowship 2021’ as one of 50 global women leaders driving a business with social impact. She has also been recognized on the ‘Arab Power List 2021’ which included 100 business leaders who have had a significant impact on life in the MENA region by Arabian Business. She is also a member of the Young Arab Leaders network.
Prior to starting her business, she spent over 15 years working in the field of international development and management consulting. She previously held regional roles for organizations such as IFC – World Bank Group, the European Commission’s Industrial Modernization Program for Egypt, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation and EFE – Education for Employment. She has also worked as a consultant, both as a freelancer and through companies like Talal Abu Ghazaleh Organization.
Samar also serves as Advisor to the Chairman & Board Member at Farm Food for Food Industries, a private family-owned business based in Egypt. As a social entrepreneur, Samar holds a special interest in policy reform, education, youth employment and gender issues. She holds a BA in Economics from the American University in Cairo.