SBWC quickly adapted its agenda to COVID-19 induced challenges by digitising most of its services in 2020.
The year 2020 saw Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC) – a NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA) affiliate – navigating challenges imposed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with agility, guiding its membership of 2,000-plus businesswomen to hold their ground and continue to grow in their respective market sectors.
Responding to the rapid changes in the global economy and shifting consumer behaviour, SBWC also deployed digital transformation strategies to ensure business continuity and advancement of its members.
SBWCVirtualTours: Launched in November 2019, ‘SBWC Tours’ was an awareness campaign intended to introduce businesswomen and entrepreneurs who want to advance their projects, to the related services and offerings of the SBWC. It also sought to connect with businesswomen in local communities who have started their own businesses in Sharjah. Last year, this campaign turned virtual and offered business counselling to its members to help them adapt to the new business conditions. Throughout 2020, SBWC organised a total of 14 on-ground and virtual tours.
Virtual initiatives and online workshops: Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, SBWC launched three virtual initiatives on social media platforms, namely, #SBWCEntrepreneursTips, #SBWCReads, and #SBWCDictionary.
While the inaugural sessions of #SBWCEntrepreneursTips sought to provide remedial solutions and imparted timely insights and practical knowledge to its members on varied aspects of conducting business from home and maintaining work-life balance, #SBWCReads provided weekly book recommendations on a wide range of business- and management-related topics.
In a bid to enable entrepreneurs expand on their business vocabulary, and subsequently, their business confidence, the entity also launched the #SBWCDictionary, a glossary of the commonly used business phrases and terminology, updated with a business term and its meaning every week.
In 2020, SBWC also organised five virtual workshops for its members spanning diverse interests and sectors, including effective remote selling strategies, digital productivity tools, E-commerce and digital marketing. The unconventional topic of colour psychology and ways to use primary colours to balance personal energy was the subject of one of the sessions.
SBWC Talks: Launched in May 2019, ‘SBWC Talks’ was organised to establish an exclusive platform for its members to share knowledge, explore best practices, and learn from successful business professionals. In 2020, the council held four sessions, three of which were held remotely.
The virtual sessions were titled ‘The Future of F&B Industries’, ‘The Rise of Sustainable Fashion’, and ‘Beauty & Jewellery Trends: The Future Outlook.’ SBWC hosted its fourth session as a live event in December, where Nawal Al Nuaimi, CEO & Founder of Paper Fig Café & Dessert Shop, shared her journey of growth in the F&B sector. She also highlighted ways to advance the industry’s skillsets at a time of major upheavals in the local and global economic markets.
Expertise exchange: In January 2020, SBWC hosted a delegation of entrepreneurs from the Egyptian Business Women Council (EBWC), introducing them to the investment opportunities in Sharjah as well as the business incentives offered by the emirate. Partnership agreements aimed at bolstering expertise exchange and collaboration between SBWC and EBWC were also signed.
As part of its diverse programming in 2020, SBWC launched ‘Students Today, Entrepreneurs Tomorrow’, an outreach campaign targeting skilled students from select universities into becoming part of the SBWC community.
To mark the UAE’s 49th National Day, SBWC launched ‘Women of Sharjah’, a month-long campaign to highlight the achievements of top female entrepreneurs in the emirate, and emphasize their contributions to the development journey of the country. Prominent women celebrated in the campaign included Aisha Al Souqi, founder of Sweetopia; Fatema Showaiter, founder of The Ark Coffee; Shaikha Mughawer, founder of Tibru Wedding; and Shatha Allay Al Naqbi, founder of Shatha Beauty Spa.
SBWC members participated in ‘The Women in Technology Forum’ held on February 18 in Sharjah.
2020 also saw SBWC revamp its website to include a comprehensive overview of its programmes, services, and initiatives.
Sheikha Hind Bint Majid Al Qassimi, Chairperson of SBWC, pointed out that the Council’s members successfully coped with challenges of the new business environment by applying the knowledge and expertise they continually gained through the year via the various workshops, training sessions and specialised consultations SBWC offered.