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Group photo of female participants at the KAUST–University of Texas at Austin Saudi-first “Empowering Saudi Women Through Entrepreneurship" program
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) announced the completion of a bootcamp that welcomed 45 Saudi-based female founders as part of the “Empowering Saudi Women Through Entrepreneurship" program. The Saudi-first program has been developed in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin’s Global Innovation Lab (GIL), a unit of Texas Global, and the U.S. Consulate General Jeddah. It aims to build the capabilities of female entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia and the entrepreneurial ecosystem while expanding access to domestic and global markets.
Female entrepreneurs are essential for the development of advanced industries to support the creation and growth of new ventures. By supporting this important group, KAUST hopes to spur growth and diversification in the economy while encouraging the participant’s ambitions — two vital pillars of Vision 2030. The women selected to participate in the program are developing innovative technologies and products with global export and growth potential to help solve pressing Saudi societal and economic challenges, focusing on issues in western Saudi Arabia.
"KAUST is committed to supporting the advancement of female entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia. We're so excited to see the outcomes of this partnership and the real impact that participants will have in the Kingdom and beyond as they develop their skills and join this international network," said Hattan Ahmed, director of the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center.
The hybrid program started online via the GIL’s online Innovation Readiness® Series in March 2022, and continued in June at the GIL and KAUST Bootcamp from May 29 - June 2, 2022, where participants engaged in branding and storytelling, fundraising, leadership, pitching and one-on-one sessions with KAUST mentors. The bootcamp culminated in the women delivering a final pitch in front of a panel of GIL and KAUST judges, who selected the qualifying candidates to attend the final training in the U.S. at the UT-Austin campus in July 2022.
There, the finalists will join an extensive global network of UT-Austin and the city’s own vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. Taking advantage of global networking in this way will offer new opportunities and broaden the participants’ global influence and impact.
Both UT-Austin and KAUST have the shared objective and goal to promote entrepreneurship via programs that encourage skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and teamwork. The program solidifies this mission, and the U.S. Consulate, based in Saudi Arabia, is offering its full support. By empowering Saudi women and fostering collaboration between tech-centered institutions like KAUST and their American counterparts, the Consulate hopes to produce fruitful alliances to tackle pressing global issues.
“Texas Global is proud to partner with KAUST and the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah to offer a program that advances women’s entrepreneurship,” said Dr. Sonia Feigenbaum, senior vice provost for global engagement and UT-Austin’s chief international officer. “The Global Innovation Lab curriculum teaches strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability of participants’ endeavors, promoting entrepreneurship as a means of stimulating economic growth and thereby increasing the financial security and prosperity of the citizens of Saudi Arabia.”
Upon completing the program, participants will have gained the knowledge necessary to start a successful entrepreneurial venture and build the capacity to ensure long-term sustainability. This will result in a positive ripple effect throughout the Saudi Arabian ecosphere as well as strengthen global connections through groundbreaking entrepreneurship.
“The United States and Saudi Arabia have a long history of economic, educational, and cultural exchange that benefits both countries,” said Dale Lawton, public affairs officer at the U.S. Consulate General Jeddah. The U.S. Consulate General Jeddah works to maintain this relationship by partnering with programs and initiatives that further the positive economic transformation outlined in Vision 2030. Hundreds of Saudis and Americans who have participated in our programs are an important part of the ties that bind our two nations together.”
By supporting Saudi-based female entrepreneurs, KAUST reaffirms its commitment to the continued expansion of a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem within KSA. In nurturing and showcasing new ideas and future leaders, the university aims to stimulate economic growth, create better-quality jobs, open new markets and increase global economic security and prosperity.