We all are aware of the stereotypes that try to evade the idea of 'women making an impact' for ages. But the good thing is, in this age of technological disruption, there come women who have set themselves as examples and synergies for breaking through the pigeon holes across the business, society and every other domain in the Middle East and the world. While everybody knows about the most influential and successful women entrepreneurs in the world such as Her Excellency Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Indra Nooyi, and many others listed by Fortune, Forbes and other media behemoths; and the top women entrepreneurs of the Arab world including Huda Kattan, Ameera Al-Taweel, Amina Al Rustamani and more; on this women's day, we decided to celebrate businesswomen impactfully influencing women, startups, young female entrepreneurs, businesses and the startup ecosystem of the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) - disrupting the dogmas and narratives. List of Most Influential Female Entrepreneurs of the Middle East These women entrepreneurs, leaders and enablers have been really active and successful in terms of creating an impact on the business and startup ecosystem of the Middle East & North Africa by setting themselves as examples through consistent work, or by directly creating synergies for new and budding entrepreneurs - paving towards the booming startup ecosystem of MENA. Disclaimer: \u25b8 The list is NOT sponsored by any third-party or the listed women entrepreneurs. \u25b8 The following list is in alphabetical order and NOT the net worth or number of the social following or any other similar metrics. Here's to the most influential female entrepreneurs list of the Middle East and North Africa. Amy Mowafi - Co-Founder & CEO, MO4Network The brain behind MO4Network, one of the most creative agencies and media hubs in the Middle, founded in 2011 by Amy Mowafi. The network encompasses a number of platforms like Startup Scene, Cairo Scene, Cairo Zoom and more. Amy hails from Egypt and also the author of the book 'Fe-mail: The trials and tribulations of being a Good Egyptian Girl'. Follow on LinkedIn Amal Dokhan - CEO, Global Entrepreneurship Network, KSA Everything that resonates with entrepreneurship lies in the portfolio of Amal who hails from KSA. The director of BABSON GLOBAL Center Entrepreneurial Leadership, a board member at Cranfield University Saudi Advisory Board, a board member at King Abdulaziz University Female Advisory Board. She leads organisational and corporate innovation programmes across US, Canada, South Africa, UAE and actively contributing to Vision 2030. Follow on LinkedIn Areije Al Shakar - Director & Fund Manager, Al Waha Venture Capital Fund of Funds Credits: Alwaha.com Areiji holds over 15 years of experience in banking and entrepreneurship domains. She has been working with Bahrain Development Bank where she takes on coaching, mentorship, startup seed funding, and entrepreneur development. Areiji aims to make Al Waha a key venture capital funding platform and community in MENA by creating added value opportunities for its portfolio of fund managers and its network partners, stakeholders, and start-ups. She has also worked with a number of reputable organisations namely Investcorp, Citibank, BNP Paribas and Lehman Brothers. Follow on LinkedIn Assia Riccio - Founder, Evolvin' Women Hailing from Italy, a philanthropist who after accumulating 10 years of experience and developing HR management models founded Evolvin' Women in UAE in 2017 to help organisations in the UAE achieve a greater level of diversity and inclusion through socially responsible initiatives. Her company was presented at Women's Economic Empowerment Global Summit, the Arabian Travel Market. She also represented Dubai in sustainability at ChangeNOW Summit in France. Follow on LinkedIn Asma Ahmad - Founder, Zaha Experience Born in Kuwait, Asma utilised her life experiences to form a synergy called Zaha Experience, a social impact firm that brings together people from different cultures, nations and ethnicities to meet, interact, bond and reshape the way one relates to each other\u2019s culture. Her hard work and ideation behind creating border-free experiences through Zaha is not only inspiring to women but every new and young entrepreneur. Follow on LinkedIn Briar Prestidge - Founder & CEO, Prestidge Group PR Originally from New Zealand, Briar is a digital marketing and comms professional who has built a community of over 40,000 business professionals which she addresses via both online and offline channels. Her company Prestidge Group PR is a high-profile media agency based in Dubai. She is also one of such female entrepreneurs in UAE who has been selected for Amazon Prime's reality series 'The Social Movement' that aims to solve socio-economic issues. Follow on LinkedIn Cynthia Helena Rif - Co-founder at Witwork Credits: design-middleeast.com Born in Lebanon, Cynthia is a co-founder of WitWork which is an innovative solution that enables entrepreneurs and professionals to flexibly work and network. Her idea of making WitWork sustainable was to make it cost-effective by utilising restaurants and dormant facilities across Abu Dhabi and Dubai - indeed a synergy paving towards boosting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the UAE. Follow on LinkedIn Dr. Sara Al Madani - Director & Partner, Social Fish Credits: naseba.com Who doesn't know Dr. Sara, a youth and fashion icon not just for the Middle East but the whole world. A global citizen, serial entrepreneur, speaker and influencer. Her consistent contribution towards women empowerment, women entrepreneurship & leadership has been acknowledged globally. She is also a board member at UAE SME Council, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Co-founder of Social Fish, and the director of Sara Al Madani Fashion Design. She has also been featured by Harpers Bazaar Arabia. Follow on LinkedIn Dr. Buthaina Al-Ansari - Founder & Chairperson, Qatariat T&D Holding Company Credits: LinkedIn Awarded Most Inspirational Arab Woman by L\u2019Officiel Qatar and ranked among 100 Most Powerful Arab Women by Arabian Business in 2012, Dr Buthaina is the Chairperson of Qatariat T&D Holding Company which helps Qatari women develop business skills in order to advance in the workplace. Al Ansari is a member of the MENA Business Women\u2019s Networks, an ambassador for Women Leading Change Qatar, a board member of Qatar Business Women\u2019s Association, and a Mentor at the Qatar Professional Women\u2019s Network Circle. She is also the Sr. Director HR of Ooredoo Qatar, an international telecom company. Follow on LinkedIn Elissa Freiha - Co-founder, Womena Credits: entrepreneur.com Elissa founded Womena in 2014 to support women entrepreneurs by bringing onboard a blend of initiatives, accelerator programs and funds. Its Women Bossladies Network has the largest number of female entrepreneurs in the whole Middle East today. The company also has an award-winning angel investment group that has backed 10 companies with over 3 million AED in total. Follow on LinkedIn Helen Al Uzaizi - CEO, BizWorld UAE; Founder, Future Entrepreneurs Credits: helenaluzaizi.com Helen possesses over 17 years of experience in supporting major brands, non-profit organizations, and startups as a mentor, board member and advisor. Her company Future Entrepreneurs has a leading basis of empowering young entrepreneurs in the MENA region. Helen is also the CEO of BizWorld UAE & BizWorld Jordan. She is recognised as UAE's Smartest 100 people and 50 most influential women in the Arab World by Arabian Business. Follow on LinkedIn Joelle Mardinian - founder, Joelle Group Known for her beauty empire Joelle Group, hailing from Lebanon, Joelle is recognised among 30 most influential women 2019 by Arabian Business. A self-made entrepreneur, a mother of two known for inspiring the Arab women through her TV show 'Joelle'. Follow on LinkedIn Joy Ajlouny - Former Co-founder & CMO, Fetchr Credits: arabwomenmag.com Who doesn\u2019t know Joy when it comes to business and entrepreneurship? This legendary woman entrepreneur was born and raised in California to Palestinian refugees. She started Fetchr, a leading logistics company from the UAE in 2013 along with Idriss Al Rifai, the serial entrepreneur & advisor has built a reputation for her success in startups and ventures worldwide, and disrupting the status quo of women in business. Her expertise in funding and investment has gained her a lot of prominence among women entrepreneurs across the globe. Follow on LinkedIn Jumana Al Darwish - Founder, The Happy Box, The Happy Studio and Happy Hearts Global Credits: Abouther.com The philanthropic aims to spread happiness and give back to the less fortunate ones. Founded the Happy Box in 2014 as an educational social enterprise. She considers her daughter Alya as the driving force behind her social initiative. She always encourages and inspires Arab women especially the mothers who are reluctant to pursue their dreams due to family pressure. Follow on LinkedIn Kelly Lundberg - Business Mentor, Founder, S.Academy Credits: kellylundbergofficial.com Award-winning celebrity stylist, originally hailing from Scotland. Kelly moved to Dubai 17 years ago and has fashioned a number of highly successful entrepreneurs across UAE, UK, US. An in-demand stylist to royalty and celebrities, and also an international speaker. Kelly through S.Academy offers entrepreneurial training to enable stylists to build businesses and back them with high-quality style strategy. Featured on Harper\u2019s Bazaar, InStyle, Hello!, and The Sunday Times. Also the author of best-selling books Success In The City and The 7-Step Styling Formula. Follow on LinkedIn Karen Wazen Bakhazi - Founder, Karen Wazen Eyewear Credits: Mojeh.com Mother of three, a London born Lebanese fashion influencer featured by Harper's Bazaar, the Dubai-based blogger turned entrepreneur spoke at the Arab Conference held at Harvard in 2019 among Mohamed Hadid and his daughters Gigi Hadid and Bella Hadid. She laid an absolute basis on the importance of being a mother and entrepreneur. Follow on Instagram Mona Ataya - Founder and CEO, Mumzworld Credits: entrepreneur.com One of the most prominent women entrepreneurs of UAE with notable presence across MENA and the world. Mona is on a mission to bring a drastic change in the life of every mother in the region. She was voted as Forbes Top 10 Innovators 2018, Arabian Business World's 100 Most Powerful Arabs. Beside Mumzworld, Mona mentors startups, entrepreneurs especially women. Follow on LinkedIn Mashal Waqar - Co-founder & COO at The Tempest - Forbes 30 Under 30 - 2-Time TEDx Speaker Credits: naseba.com A media entrepreneur, startup mentor, and an accessibility advocate. Mashal\u2019s The Tempest is a global women-focused media company that has gained a lot of exposure in the past three years, making it one of the fastest-growing women's media companies globally. Mashal was awarded 2019 Forbes Middle East 30 Under 30, 2019 Entrepreneur Middle East's Achieving Women, 19th WIL Economic Forum Young Leader of the Year, RIT Dubai President's Cup. Follow on LinkedIn Mai Medhat - Co-founder And CEO, Eventtus Credits: eventtus.com Hailing from Egypt, Mai is a computer engineer, tech entrepreneur and the CEO & Co-founder of Eventtus; an all-in-one events platform and networking app that helps startups and businesses recognise relevant speakers for their events; on the other side helps people discover events, get tickets and network. She spoke at Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 along with former US president Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg among others. Her presence in GES 2016 contributed towards giving a global exposure to the MENA startup ecosystem. Follow on LinkedIn Mirna Sleiman - founder and CEO, Fintech Galaxy Credits: Zawya The fintech startup fraternity in the MENA region eyes Mirna Sleiman as a role model. She is the founder & CEO of Fintech Galaxy, a global crowdsourcing and mentoring platform for fintech startups. Mirna is also a former award-winning journalist, and possesses over 15 years of experience in guiding a number of banks, governments on various digital transformation projects including Dubai FDI, The Union of Arab Banks. She also specialises in public affairs, Strategic communications and a part of various advisory boards including MENA Research Partners. Follow on LinkedIn Najla Al-Midfa - CEO at Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center Credits: Arabian Business The CEO of Sheraa (Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center), a government entity that aims to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and provide them ground for success. She is also the founder of khayarat, a platform that enables young Emiratis to make informed career choices. Najla is a member of the Board of Directors, and Risk Committee; Chairman of the Audit Committee at United Arab Bank; Vice-Chairman at Young Arab Leaders; a founding board member of Education for Employment UAE, and Women Corporate Directors GCC. Follow on LinkedIn Nazanin Daneshvar - CEO & Founder, Takhfifan The most acclaimed female Inranian female Iranian internet entrepreneur known to date. Nazanin is internationally known for encouraging the startup culture in Iran, especially entrepreneurship among women. She is the founder & CEO of Takhfifan, Iran\u2019s first and leading group-buying website. She is also the founder of Tarinan, a popular local reviews website and mobile phone application. She has taken on-stage at a number of prominent startup and tech events giving her exposure in international media. She was awarded the Young Entrepreneur Award CACCI2018, and also got her spot among the top 7 UNCTAD\u2019s eTrade for Women Advocates. Follow on LinkedIn Nour Al Hassan - founder & CEO of UAE-based Tarjama Credits: The Arab Weekly A lawyer by education and an entrepreneur by practice. Founder & CEO of Tarjama that encompasses many businesses: Tarjama Enterprise, Ureed.com, TarjamaMS, and AdvanceML. Nour is an advocate for women empowerment and started Tarjama on the premise of empowering women with economic opportunities whenever they don\u2019t have immediate access to full-time jobs and office work. She spoke at a session \u2018Embracing Disruption\u2019 at the World Economic Forum on the MENA region in 2017. Follow on LinkedIn Noor Al Muhaideb - Founding Partner, Opaal Interiors and Detay Living Credits: design-middleeast.com She graduated from the American University of Sharjah, with a Bachelor of Interior Design degree in 2002. With fifteen years of professional experience, she built her impressive portfolio by implementing and delivering countless residential, hospitality and commercial developments for Emaar Properties. Noor was awarded Achieving Women award in Design 2019 by Entrepreneur Middle East - setting inspiration for Middle East\u2019s women in the design sector. Follow on LinkedIn Randa Bessiso - Founding Director, The University of Manchester Middle East Centre Credits: Forbes Middle East Recognised by Forbes Middle East amongst the 200 Most Powerful Arab Women. Randa is a regular speaker at executive forums in the UAE and especially on her special interest area of women in business. Randa has spent much of her career working on market entry strategies, company startups and channel development programmes, and building profitable regional businesses. She holds over 20 years of experience in management education which includes the founding director for Manchester Business School (MBS) Middle East Centre. Follow on LinkedIn Rama Chakaki - Co-Founder at Mint+Laurel Credits: LinkedIn Syrian American from Hama and Damascus, Rama applies 25 years of technical and communications experience towards social development for Arab youth. She runs the VIP.fund, a venture philanthropy fund investing in youth programs and technology startups. She also serves the board of the Syrian International Business Association, and the founding member of Arab Women in Computing and MENA\u2019s first regional Women Angel Investment Network (WAIN). She has also served on the board of TechWadi, PCRF, PACES, The Impact HUB, UAE; Challenge to Change and Nakhweh. Follow on LinkedIn Rania Ayman - Founder & Managing Director, Entreprenelle Credits: The Daily Crisp One of the youngest women entrepreneurs of the Arab world in this list, Rania is a serial social entrepreneur & the founder of Entreprenelle which is a mission-driven enterprise that strives to bridge the gender gap economically by educating, training and linking women to all the resources possible impacting more than 50,000 women. A former Global Shaper Community at the World Economic Forum. UN Women Gender innovation Agora member, Best Female Entrepreneur by YE! Award winner, Injaz award winner, and Women Entrepreneurship Network board member. Follow on LinkedIn Saana Azzam - Founder & CIO, MENA Speakers Credits: thearabweekly.com A speaker, performance coach and the founder of MENA region\u2019s leading speakers\u2019 bureau MENA Speakers that provides world-class speakers for a variety of events across the globe. She was awarded the prestigious title \u2018Female Economist of the Year\u2019 in 2010. She has undertaken public speaking assignments in Europe on leadership and leading Generation Y and is listed as one of Sweden\u2019s 101 Super talents in 2012, and recognized as a \u201cTop 30 Under 30 influencers\u201d in 2015. Follow on LinkedIn Sahiqa Bennett - CEO & Co-founder, Searchie Credits: entrepreneur.com Also the Senior Advisor for The Office of HH Sheikh Sultan, Sahiqa specialises in building business in the UAE. She is the Senior Board Advisor at the Lead Ventures, UAE to help companies accelerate their plans internationally and set up offices in Dubai. She focuses on scaling businesses and empowers people especially women and the youth; funding projects that involve poverty-ridden people, villages and towns across the globe. Sahiqa has been selected by Amazon\u2019s reality series \u2018The Social Movement\u2019 to represent UAE and help solve socio-economic problems. Follow on LinkedIn Sarah Arbi - Co-founder & CEO, G-Dice Credits: LinkedIn Sarah aims to transform the way advertising is done in the Middle East by augmenting every campaign that her agency G-DICE creates with a flavour of social impact. Hailing from Tunisia, Sarah has set up herself as a role model for young entrepreneurs in the Middle East who struggle to gain trust of the big corporates. Sarah also hosted a TEDxTalk at TEDxCarthage, Tunisia around the topic \u2018believing in yourself\u2019 in 2013. Follow on LinkedIn Samia Haimoura - Founder at SEON GmbH Credits: cairoscene.com Samia Haimoura, a young woman entrepreneur who co-founded Seon Gmbh (formerly Securella Gmbh) in 2017, an app that connects people in danger with the fastest and closest security response in South Africa, at the push of a button. At the age of 23, Samia Haimoura successfully set the Moroccan flag at the top of Kilimanjaro, the highest summit in Africa, becoming the youngest Moroccan to do so. Earned a number of prestigious awards: Seedstars Africa in 2016 (Casablanca), top 10 at Global Mobile Challenge at World Mobile Congress 2017 (Spain), Top 5 Female founders at Vodafone Accelerator "F-Lane" (Germany), She Entrepreneurs 2018 (Sweden), Westerwelle Young Founders Fellow (2017-2018). Follow on LinkedIn Sonia Weymuller - Founding Partner, VentureSouq Credits: Naseba.com Sonia co-founded VentureSouq in 2013 to help early-stage technology companies both regionally and globally. Venture Souq is a network of over 1000 angel and institutional investors that makes it one of the largest venture platforms in the GCC with a portfolio of 115 investments. The company also develops rich educational content and organises a number of programs for startups across MENA. Besides this, Sonia is also a board member at e7 Daughters of the Emirates which is a year-long program that brings together aspiring young women entrepreneurs of ages 18-25 of UAE to develop and implement team projects that benefit their communities. Follow on LinkedIn Shereen Mitwalli - Founder & CEO, The Female Network Credits: shereenmitwalli.com A renowned International Presenter, keynote speaker and author, Shereen is also the Director of Onstage International - the leading celebrity and talent agency based in Dubai and UK. Shereen is an entrepreneur with various businesses in Media and Production, and the founder of The Female Network which is an online content platform for women that also organises regular networking sessions for women in business. Follow on LinkedIn Thea C. Myhrvold - Founder of TeachMeNow and GetBee Credits: expo2020dubai.com Thea graced the cover of Inc Arabia, an advocate for women and diversity and how technology is and can be used as a force for good and social impact, Thea has spent nearly a decade in her entrepreneurial journey, and truly knows what it takes to scale and execute from a simple idea to a global business. Securing partnerships with Microsoft to Expo2020 and One Million Arab Coders. Thea has been recognized with numerous awards including being an Expo2020 Global Innovator, The Cartier Women\u2019s Awards, INC. Arabia\u2019s Top Female Startups, Mercedes Benz Brand Ambassador and top 10 Linkedin Power Profile all under the age of 30. Follow on LinkedIn Zahara Malik - Co-founder & CEO, Grosvenor Capital Credits: Arabian Business Zahar Malik is an experienced investment professional with a demonstrated history of working in the financial services industry with a focus on Impact Investing, Deal Origination, Emerging Markets, Sustainable Development, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Government. Zahara has also worked on key philanthropy and impact campaigns with HRH The Prince of Wales, The Princes Trust and Mosaic International network. Follow on LinkedIn Over to you So that was our list of women entrepreneurs of MENA - 2020, but the story will continue next year - bringing another 35 businesswomen including influential female founders, women philanthropists, enablers, female leaders, and more. If you have any suggestions for the next year's list, you are most welcome to share that in the comments below.