Press releases

ITC and Visa to support economic inclusion of women and youth entrepreneurs in the Gulf

11 juin 2024
ITC News

(Geneva/Doha) — The International Trade Centre’s (ITC) SheTrades Initiative and Visa, a world leader in digital payments, announced the next phase of their partnership to support youth and women entrepreneurs in Kuwait and Qatar.

Youth and women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play an increasingly important role in the economy of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, 53% of young Arabs in the region plan to start their own business within the next five years, as revealed in results of the 15th ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey. And in 2020, McKinsey forecasted that within a decade, the proportion of women in the Middle East in professional and technical roles will more than double due to digitalization and entrepreneurship, potentially unlocking $575 billion every year, according to the OECD.

In this context, ITC SheTrades and Visa are scaling their efforts in Qatar and Kuwait to position youth and women entrepreneurs at the forefront of economic growth and innovation in the GCC.

‘Small Steps to Success’ introduces a comprehensive curriculum that covers entrepreneurial development, digitalization, innovation, and soft skills, tailored to youth and women entrepreneurs. The project aims to foster a supportive ecosystem through customized peer-to-peer sessions and networking opportunities. It will also bridge the gender finance gap by engaging with financial institutions to promote gender-inclusive practices and providing financial literacy training to entrepreneurs.

In Qatar, Visa and ITC will be collaborating with the Qatar Fintech Hub (QFTH), the specialized FinTech Incubator and Accelerator program by Qatar Development Bank to empower early-stage entrepreneurs and FinTech startups.

QFTH will play a strategic role in advancing Visa and ITC’s efforts in empowering entrepreneurs by leveraging on its role as the FinTech Flag Bearer of the Qatari ecosystem’s sector. Under the partnership, QFTH will actively contribute with Visa and ITC to equip youth entrepreneurs with the necessary skills, tools and connections to succeed through workshops, webinars, training sessions and networking events among other plans.

“Through this partnership, we will help equip more women and young entrepreneurs in Qatar and Kuwait the skills and network they need thrive in the digital economy. Our collaborative efforts with ITC are an embodiment of our belief in the transformative power of digital inclusion and its potential to create a ripple effect of growth and opportunity for everyone, everywhere,” said Shashank Singh, Visa’s VP and General Manager for Qatar and Kuwait.

ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said: “We’re strengthening our partnership with Visa to see more women and youth drive innovation and sustainability in Qatar and Kuwait. From online business courses to networking and financing opportunities, we’re taking a holistic and tailored approach to delivering the support they need.”

Dr. Hamad Salem Mejegheer, QDB’s Executive Director of Advisory and Incubation, said the initiative falls in line with the bank’s longtime efforts to propel entrepreneurs to success. “This initiative is in line with QDB’s vision of fostering innovation and developing a collaborative ecosystem that nurtures creative ventures to position Qatar as a leading global and regional fintech hub. Through the cultivation of a robust digital economy, we contribute to advancing the objectives of the Third National Development Strategy and Qatar’s economic diversification efforts.”

Applications are now open. Selected participants will receive support in identifying key challenges and opportunities to grow their business and will gain access to an e-learning package covering topics such as e-commerce strategies, sustainable business practices and financial readiness. These courses are designed to lay a foundation for entrepreneurs to further develop their businesses.

Interested and youth and women-led businesses may apply for the programme here.

About Visa Inc

Visa (NYSE: V) is a world leader in digital payments, facilitating transactions between consumers, merchants, financial institutions and government entities across more than 200 countries and territories. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, convenient, reliable and secure payments network, enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. We believe that economies that include everyone everywhere, uplift everyone everywhere and see access as foundational to the future of money movement. Learn more at About Visa, Visa CEMEA Blog and @VisaCEMEA.

About ITC

The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Centre and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

For more information, visit

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About the ITC SheTrades Initiative

ITC launched the ITC SheTrades Initiative to remove barriers to women's participation in trade by working with governments, the private sector and entrepreneurs to build the business capacities of women and to create a fairer, more sustainable global economy. ITC SheTrades provides women entrepreneurs and producers with access to key knowledge, resources and networks; supports policymakers on inclusive policy reforms; and leverages public and private partnerships to amplify the impact of its work.

Media contact ITC

Susanna Pak
Senior Strategic Communications Officer
International Trade Centre
E: pak [at] (pak[at]intracen[dot]org)
T: +41 22 730 0651

About Qatar Development Bank (QDB)

Qatar Development Bank (QDB) was established as a developmental organization with the primary objective of fuelling industrial growth and driving the private sector’s economic diversification. QDB has reinvented itself to become the main supporting arm for Qatar’s private sector and a powerful catalyst for socio-economic development through three access-based pillars to SME and private-enterprise support: Access to Finance, Access to Markets, and Access to Capability.

Today, the Bank and its subsidiaries are building on Qatar’s rich legacy of socio-economic achievements by taking a brave leap into the future and focusing on the digital transformation of the country’s SME and business ecosystems to usher entrepreneurs and SMEs into the new economy, embrace emerging opportunities, and steadily transform QDB into a digital bank of the future and a lighthouse that leads the way for financial and developmental institutions across the region and beyond. For more information, please visit