In Depth: Women Forging Change Through Entrepreneurship

By: The GrEEK Campus Team (The GrEEK Campus)

On: 09 Mar 2023 11:03 AM

As the proud home to numerous successful female-founded and co-founded businesses, we want to spotlight the many ways women entrepreneurs are forging change in Egypt’s economy, society and beyond this International Women’s Day. 


Women-led Innovation Thrives Through Highs and Lows 

In recent years, the Egyptian government has been applying and implementing initiatives to encourage female entrepreneurship, such as funding and mentorship programs. With this, more women are starting their own businesses. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), Egyptian female entrepreneurs have increased by 45% since 2014. This increase is due to many factors such as governmental support, more females rising to the scene and the availability of better training and education opportunities for women.  

MENA-based startups founded by women raised just 1.2 percent of the region’s VC funding. 

Despite these factors, women still face gender discrimination and a lack of investment and access to finance resulting from cultural reservations towards female empowerment and supporting female entrepreneurs. 


Growth Opportunities in FemTech 

One female-led sector taking the market by storm and catching the eyes of investors and entrepreneurs alike is the Female Technology (femtech) sector. Femtech refers to tech-enabled women’s healthcare digital tools with which women can find, discuss, and manage their health concerns in privacy and confront health issues that are deemed taboo, such as menopause. As women’s health started advancing on the agendas of regional government sectors, the femtech sector is expected to grow by $60B come 2027, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 15.6%. 

The femtech sector is expected to grow by $60B come 2027, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 15.6%. 

“As digital technology paves the way toward more inclusive healthcare access for women, regardless of income level, race, or reproductive status, Organon is interested in understating the solutions and applications being developed to address some of the most pressing unmet needs.” Says, Sara Shamel, Communications Lead MENAT at Organon. 

While impressive, this growth is by no means surprising; one of the biggest driving factors behind this growth is investors realizing the market potential which, according to Dina El Shenoufy, Chief Investment Officer at Flat6Labs, can round up to a $1 trillion based on the current statistics regarding the women population around the world and their spending power. This sudden attention towards female healthcare happened throughout the past few years as a result of the socio-cultural paradigm shift and so many ‘taboo’ subjects not deemed so anymore, helping the industry thrive. “Female health issues are becoming less stigmatized, and society at large is now ready to debate topics related to menstruation, female sexual wellbeing and menopause,” says Dina El Shenoufy, Flat6Labs.  


Advancing Women in Tech: A Chat with Nada Abdelnour, Co-founder at Axis 

How many of us can name a female founder in Tech, let alone FinTech? Despite playing a major role in regional economies, women still remain largely underrepresented in Tech leadership. “I made the switch to the tech world in 2009 and have worked at everything from large tech companies to startups and scale-ups, to co-founding my own startup now,” said Nada. 

“I cannot advocate it enough for women for lots of different reasons: from the thrill of working on a product and mission that you are passionate about to building something from scratch to learning and growing every single day, and to working closely with amazingly talented people, among other things like flexibility—but that is for a different article.” 

7 Tips To Move into Tech From A Female Founder 

We asked Nada for her advice to young women looking to make a move into the tech sector. If you’re wondering whether tech is the right career for you, be sure to read on.  

Tip #1 - Find an area that you are passionate about.

Most tech startups are mission-driven. Some want to revolutionize transportation, disrupt banking, democratize buying homes, save the environment etc. What do you care about? Start off by figuring that out, and then search for startups working in that space. I figured out that I really cared about social impact and levelling the playing field, so I was really attracted to FinTech. 

Tip #2 - Understand the different functions in a tech startup.

While you may think that tech startups only hire software developers/engineers to code, that is not the case. Startups also need to hire people in Sales, Customer Service, Product Management, Product Marketing, Brand Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Graphic Design, Product Design, Copywriting, Talent Acquisition, and Finance, among other functions. Chat with people working in these functions to understand what a typical day looks like for them and what skills they need daily.  

Tip #3 - Identify your transferable skills.

You may have zero tech or digital experience. But you must have some transferable skills. Do you have strong sales skills? Are you a great communicator? Are you able to work cross-functionally? Are you data-driven? These are all very valuable skills to have in a tech startup. Update your CV with these skills and be prepared to discuss examples from your experience that demonstrate these skills. Bonus: Start a side hustle. I have a friend who was dying to work in social media, so she started an Instagram account and built a very strong following by creating great content. She used that account to land her dream job.

Tip #4 - Do your research.

Probably the first question tech startups will ask you in the interview process is ‘Why us?’ Be prepared to answer this question. What about the startup gets you excited? Is it the mission? Is it the culture? Is it the founders? Is it the product? Try to find someone who works in the startup who you can schedule a coffee chat with to learn more about the startup. Make sure to read all their press, social media, content, and website, and also look at what their competitors are doing. Bonus: Try to speak to a customer of the startup. I made this my mission when I was trying to land a job at a FinTech startup. I talked to a few customers that were using the FinTech product. What did they like about the product? How could it improve? I even asked them to demo the product! (Spoiler alert: I got the job).

Tip #5 - Get ready for the interview. 

Tech startups want to make sure you are the right fit. Be prepared to answer questions like “Tell us about a time you failed,” or “Tell us about a time you did a lot with a little,” or “Tell us about a time you didn’t agree with your colleagues, how did you resolve it?” Tech startups encourage values like risk-taking, learning from failure, resourcefulness, ownership and being able to build consensus. Be prepared to find examples from your experience or life in general of how you have demonstrated these values.

Tip #6 - Stay humble!

Working in a tech startup requires you to do a lot of learning by doing, to follow the data, to very often pivot, and to be able to build consensus with people of various backgrounds and opinions. Stay open-minded, get ready to be proven wrong a lot, and learn to support the best ideas, no matter wherever they come from.

Tip #7 - Be ready to get your hands dirty!

From my experience, one year working in a startup is probably equal to three years working somewhere else. You will learn so much by getting your hands dirty, and you will have the opportunity to work on so many different things, take ownership, and to grow.

If you are a woman considering making a move into the tech space, feel free to reach out to Nada at [email protected] for more advice!  


Building A Gender-Balanced Startup Ecosystem 

It is undeniable that women have a major role to play in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. One way tech companies can repair the broken run for women in startups and tech companies is to implement policies that combat gender bias by recruiting gender-diverse teams, debiasing advancement in promotion and building a strong culture of support for women via mentors and sponsors. 

To learn more about gender-balanced HR management, join our group work session tonight at 6 pm. Learn more