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Apply Now: MasterCard Entrepreneur Middle East Women SME Leaders Awards 2024

Women-owned and led businesses are a powerful force in the global economy and key drivers of economic transformation, stability and recovery.

Mastercard, in partnership with Entrepreneur Middle East, launched the inaugural Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards in 2022 to recognize and celebrate women entrepreneurs in the Middle East and Africa region. Last year, the awards were extended to SMEs from Eastern Europe.

The third edition of Mastercard Women SME Leaders Awards this year will be the first in-person ceremony as we celebrate the remarkable achievements of these visionary leaders who are shaping the future of business in our region.

Nominations are now open* for individuals and organizations and we invite all women SME leaders to participate. You must be a small enterprise that has a turnover of less than AED50 million and employs between 6 to 50 people.

Aim and Benefits 

There are no costs associated with attending or nominating for the awards.


Award Categories

  • The Creative Leader: This award category is to recognize the woman SME leader in the creative industry including design, art, architecture, culture, music. Judges will consider the projects completed in the last three years, those in pipeline and other achievements. Any specific initiatives related to sustainability and environment should also be mentioned.
  • The F&B Leader: This award category is to recognize a woman SME leader in the food and beverage sector who had made a considerable impact in that industry. This category also includes foodtech, food production, cloud kitchens, delivery solutions and aggregator businesses.
  • The Retailer: This award category is to celebrate a woman SME leader in the retail and e-commerce sector. The winner for this category should show outstanding leadership skills, healthy business growth and – for those with teams – creating a diversified working environment.
  • The Educator: This award category is to recognize a woman SME leader in the education sector.
  • The Health Custodian: This award category is to recognize a woman SME leader in healthcare who has made a positive business impact in the region.
  • The Innovator: This award category is to recognize a woman SME leader in the technology sector who has made a positive contribution to the industry in the region. This includes running a tech business or creating digital products and solutions.
  • The Professional Services Leader: This award category is to recognize a woman SME leader who has made a positive impact in the professional services sector. This includes finance, insurance, banking, law, management consultancy and other relevant fields.
  • The Fashion & Beauty Leader: This award category is to recognize and highlight a woman SME leader in the fashion and beauty sector.
  • The Media Leader: This award category is to recognize a woman SME leader in the media, advertising, marketing, branding and PR & communications industries.
  • The Visionary:
    • This award category is to recognize a visionary woman SME leader, either an entrepreneur – who has launched a successful business within the past 12 months in any sector – or a corporate executive who has significantly impacted the women-run and owned SME ecosystem in the region. The winner for this category should have the following superior characteristics (but not limited to):
    • Creativity in the solution developed;
    • Either has a large number of users within their target market or a significant potential for growth;
    • Has created a scalable business;
    • Either has raised significant funding or has a high potential being funded;
    • Created new solutions that has benefited the SME sector;
    • Developed policies that drives growth of the SME sector.
  • The Leader Of Tomorrow: This award category is to recognize woman SME leader below the age of 30 who through her talents has achieved significant milestones whether in her career, in the society and the people around her.
  • The Social Impact Leader: This award is to honor a woman SME leader who has made a substantial positive impact on society through charitable work, help needy people, creating job opportunities, or providing a framework for a better education and healthcare.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: This award will go to a woman that has made an outstanding contribution to creating an inclusive working environment and equal opportunities for women in the workplace in the past three decades and has helped women to break the glass ceiling. This is also referred to as the Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Home-Based Business Of The Year: This award category is to recognize a company business led or founded by a woman and run exclusively from her place of residence and has been operating for more than two years. The winner of this category should show a significant growth in terms of revenue and the value created.
  • Momtrepreneur Of The Year: This award category is to recognize a mother who has started a small business or is part of a small size business. The winner for this category should show significant positive impact of their role on the business and its growth.

Interview date, Process and Venue 

Judging Criteria

Mastercard will be the chair of the judging committee. Shortlisted companies will be vetted by the Entrepreneur team and then passed onto the judging committee. Each judge will independently evaluate the shortlisted candidates and the scores will be shared with all the other judges. The winners will be decided by a vote; in case of a draw, Mastercard will choose the winner.


  • Individuals may win more than one category.
  • The judges or individuals within the judge’s company can’t nominate.
  • All the businesses or the individuals nominated should either have their headquarters/offices in the Middle East, Africa or Eastern Europe regions.

Judging Process

Each judge will receive a scoring sheet for each of the shortlisted nominees. Each of the categories has different sets of criteria and the judges need to score each item from 1-10 and choose the winner.

The suggested winners by each of the judges will be sent to Mastercard.

Mastercard has the final say on the winners and can veto nominees.

Application Deadline

Not Specified

How to Apply

Interested and qualified? Go to MasterCard Foundation on to apply

  • To submit a nomination, click on the button above
  • You'll be then directed to a form where you need to fill in all of the requested fields
  • Answer all of the required questions as clearly and concisely as possible
  • Please also include a statement of not more than 1000 words on why you deserve to win the award
  • If you'd like to send documents supporting your nomination, collate them in a single PDF file not larger than 10MB and email it to [email protected]
  • You will receive a confirmation once your nomination has been received.
  • Any further queries can be e-mailed to the address above

For more details, visit Entrepreneur Middle East website.

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