Events Ascame/ March 9, 2024/ Featured, Institutional

When talking about inspiring positive changes in gender equality in the Mediterranean we have to mention Ms. Rim Siam, President of Economic Businesswomen Council at Alexandria Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Siam is an active Egyptian model who advocates for a better inclusion of women at all levels across the business, not only in the MENA region but globally, For the last two years, she has named one of the 16 UNIDO women economic empowerment success stories. Ms. Siam contributed to elevate businesswomen to the next level, providing them with access to markets, exploring new financing ways to launch and grow their projects and fostering networking opportunities. She defends the key role of the Mediterranean chambers of commerce in inspiring positive changes in gender equality across the region and she also highlights women’s influence in the development of the Mediterranean economies.

What are the main keys of your inclusion business paradigm?
Diversity, creativity, inspiration and connectivity. When women are inspired to be included, they became self-confident and can motivate others to innovate and create.

How did you transfer this inclusive model to the chambers of commerce? What kind of inclusion initiatives has the Chamber of Commerce of Alexandria launched since 2015, when you were nominated as President of the Economic Business Women Council?
In March 2015, the Chamber of Commerce of Alexandria put in action SDG 5 and launched the Economic Business Women Council, the first ever in it’s history since 1922. From then on, I have dedicated my work to celebrating female talent and fostering an inclusive ecosystem. I have been instrumental in creating an inclusive women’s culture at the chambers of commerce across Egypt by bringing awareness to chamber’s impactful and inclusion initiatives and programs. “ChamWomenpreneurs exchange” was one of our initiatives. This is a space to encourage dialogue between entrepreneurs, especially women across chambers of commerce nationally and internationally, to be heard and to ensure that every woman in business has access to the tools to realize their fullest economic potential. Initiatives like this are very impactful because elevate women’s businesses to the next level.

In your opinion, what is the key role of the chambers of commerce to reduce discrimination and to address gender inequality?
Promoting work-life balance , creating an open-minded atmosphere , increasing hiring diversity, providing mentorship for everyone and bridging generation gap.

Talking about women inclusion at all levels, what are the main differences between the North and the South of the Mediterranean region? Is it true that women in the South have to face more obstacles than in the North?
The cultures of MENA countries tend to impose conventional roles to women, who are expected to assume most, if not all, household and caregiving responsibilities. Female entrepreneurs in the South of the Mediterranean face various challenges, such as limited access to financial resources, difficulty in maintaining work-life balance, lack of business networking opportunities, and gender discrimination. I think that access to finance, digitalisation and harnessing AI power to women’s companies advantages are common challenges for business women not only in the South and North of the Mediterranean but globally.

Can you describe your day-to-day life as a President of Economic Businesswomen Council at the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce? What are the main challenges you have to face and also what are the main demands that you have from businesswomen in your country?
My main goal is to build trust, a diverse team, and an active and engaged membership network. I usually attend and lead my team and member’s meetings to discuss project updates, goals, and strategies, in addition to listening to their demands, their challenges and needs. The main challenge is creating an inclusive atmosphere for all within the chambers of commerce, and the main demand is to elevate their businesses to the next level and expand it abroad.

What advice would you give to women interested in running their own business? Why is it worth taking this step?
My advice is: Invest in yourself, know your market and trade off between risks and benefits.-

What about your solutions to overcome the financial challenge for many women entrepreneurs?
As I mentioned previously access to finance is a global challenge. The financial issue is always an obstacle for many entrepreneurs who want to start or expand their businesses. For this reason, from the chambers of commerce we help businesswomen to overcome the lack of financial confidence.

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