Some 100 female business leaders from across four continents gathered in Morocco last week for the “Women Connect to Innovate” conference. The aim of the event is to forge new business collaborations and explore the role of innovation in empowering women to generate prosperity in the region.
The conference was co-organized by Start-Up Nation Central, a non-profit organization that promotes Israeli innovation around the world to help solve global challenges, and Morocco’s Consensus Public Relations.
It brought together women from Israel, Bahrain, Benin, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, the United States and elsewhere, focused on the shared challenges faced by women in the Middle East and Africa. These include how geography, culture or religion impact women’s access to financial security, education and the basic infrastructure that enable opportunities for women to lead.
Also joining as partners in the event were Google, Women in Tech, CESE (Conseil Economique Social et Environnemental), Morocco’s Ministry of Soldiery, FRDISI (Fondation de Recherche de Development et d’innovation en Sciences et Ingenierie), UM6P (Mohammed VI Polytechnic University), OMPIC, the Gulf-Israel Women’s Forum and Leaders on Purpose.
The three-day gathering included a series of roundtables, workshops and panels focused on investments and funding, education and infrastructure. The event culminated in the unveiling of a graffiti wall in Marrakech, jointly created by three artists from Israel, Morocco and Senegal. The event ended with a gala dinner with government and business officials.
“The Middle East and Africa regions are growing at a rapid pace and innovation is a key component to that,” said Start-Up Nation Central CEO Avi Hasson. “Last year, we held the Connect to Innovate conference in Casablanca which brought together hundreds of Israeli and Moroccan business leaders. This gathering deepens the dialogue among professional networks from across the MEA region and recognizes the important role that women play in the innovation ecosystem. We are proud to provide a platform to encourage further collaboration.”
What emerged from the workshops and panel discussions was that the MEA countries are closely aligned in facing personal challenges such as empowering women to facilitate their passions and become leaders in their field.
Equally, much of the innovation that is the output of these countries includes solutions in sectors such as water technology, renewable energy, ag-tech, human capital, health tech, etc., all of which are complimentary business opportunities to tackle challenges not only regionally, but worldwide.