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These Are the Arab World's Top 10 Businesswomen, According to Forbes

The global magazine has just released a list of female trailblazers across the region, including Eventtus' CEO Mai Medhat, Fetchr's founder Joy Ajlouny, and Mumzworld's Mona Ataya.

Just as the end of January signalled the start of an eventful year, with several startups raising investments and a landscape abuzz with events and startup opportunities, the globally leading magazine, which earlier in 2017 published the list of top 100 startups in the Arab world, has just released its list of Top Arab women entrepreneurs making waves. 

The feature includes 10 startups that have championed the most innovative ideas and received the most external funding in 2017: In total, these entrepreneurs succeeded in gathering funding worth more than $72.8 million in 2017. Dominating the list are Palestinian women, with 30.8 percent, followed by Jordanian and Egyptian with 23.1 percent each, and Lebanese with 15.4 percent. Here's the breakdown. 

1. Joy Ajlouny, co-founder of Fetchr, tops the list securing highest external funding of $52 million for her startup that is based on the GPS shipping. “That’s my biggest achievement, not just as an Arab woman but as a woman period," she said in an interview with Emirates Women, referring to raising the investment. "Only 1 per cent of all women have ever achieved that. I can’t believe I have done that sometimes," she continued. The Dubai-based entrepreneur, who was the daughter of a Palestinian refugee, previously founded a series of other startups, including Bonfaire, a platform for emerging designers. 

Fetchr's co-founder Idriss Al Refaie explains the startup's model during the RiseUp Summit. 

2. Mona Ataya and Leena Khalil, co-founders of Mumzworld, take the second place on the list. Ataya not only co-founded the company in 2011, but is also co-founder of another tech giant:, one of the leading recruitment platforms in the region. The company has steadily grown to become the top e-commerce platform for parenting in the region, having recently also announced a multi-million dollar Series B investment in a round that includes Wamda Capital, twofour54, Endeavor Catalyst and others.

3. Mona Haddad, founder of AppMahal. The Palestinian mobile application developer raised a total $4.3 million for her social media application developing startup. Following the success of AppMahal  the company launched a second product called Sila, an instant messaging platform that helps more than a million users communicate with friends and families in countries such as EgyptJordanTunisia, UAE, among others in the region.

4. Bana Shomali, the Jordanian founder of Service Market. The startup - previously known as - born out of the realisation that many UAE residents struggled to find and hire professional home services companies. The entrepreneur set up ServiceMarket to help customers get free quotes for any home service they needed, and book their service online, raising a total $4.3 million in investments.    

5. Lubna Taimeh and Noora Shanak, co-founders of Jordanian e-commerce platform ShopGo, which raised $3.5 million in funding. Tapping into the $25 billion e-commerce opportunity in the Middle East and North Africa, the startup offers a comprehensive e-commerce platform that makes selling online accessible in the MENA region, by helping businesses accelerate the time it takes to set up an online store, advising on the most optimised payment and shipping options, which products to sell and how to navigate local legislation.

6. Nadia Moussouni, founder of Lebanese startup Energy24, who raised $3 million in funding. Founded along with Antoine Saab, Energy24 is a project offers a power storage solution which, according to the entrepreneurs, can solve the most challenging electricity supply problems. In 2014, their company, Sharp Minds, added a solar energy component.

Egyptian entrepreneur Abeer Elsisy during the Womena Bossladies breakfast, 
organised with RiseUp and Startup Scene last December. 

7. Fatima Albalooshi, co-founder of Onegcc, a Kuwaiti online recruiting platform for the GCC region, which has raised 2.5 million in investments to date. The Bahraini cloud-based employment platform connects job seekers to companies, providing innovative tools for job seekers and employers including big data, skill matching, online courses, cloud interviews and more.

8. Mai Medhat and Nihal Fares, co-founders of Egyptian startup Eventtus, who scaled to Dubai and have recently raised a $2 million investment by 500 Startups and Algebra Ventures. Founded in 2012, the startup has worked with over 9,000 events, including some of the region's most prominent, such as Dubai Expo 2020, Informa, DMG Events, Emirates Foundation and ArabNet. The startup had previously raised $175,000 from Cairo Angels and Vodafone Ventures. After their regional expansion and the opening of a second office in Dubai in 2013, Medhat raised another round of investment for $450,000, this time led by Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP).

9. Loulou Khazen Baz, the Lebanese entrepreneur behind Nabbesh, the freelance platform similar to Behance leading across the MENA region. Nabbesh, which means ‘search’ in Arabic, currently hosts 100,000 freelancers with 42 percent of them identifying as full time freelancers, according to Wamda. Nearly 20,000 jobs have been posted on Nabbesh across different fields, from design, to media and architecture. The startup has so far raised $1.8 million in investment, but aims for more: Baz recently partnered with Silatech to launch Fursati, a pilot social programme to tackle youth employment in Palestine, connecting Gulf-based businesses with qualified Palestinian freelancers.

10. Abeer Elsisy, co-founder of Elves, the one-stop bot that offers users concierge services online to buy nearly everything, from cigarettes at the kiosk to flight tickets and surprise presents. Together with co-founder and partner Karim El Sahy, the entrepreneur recently closed a $2 million investment from 500 from Dubai Angel Investors and Kauffman fellows.


Check out the stories of the Middle East's Bossladies and female changemakers on our Bossladies series.

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