Maria Pearson, CEO and Founder, grow.ME; Raghu Malhotra, President, MENA, MasterCard and HE Dr. Raja Al Gurg, President of DBWC with the Ro'Ya 2015 finalists







The top three female entrepreneurs recognized at Gala Dinner after a ten month initiative to mentor and develop local talent

  • Leyla Lahsini named overall winner with her KenziBox business
  • Amira Awwad’s MedsConnect business received second place
  • Abir Moussa walked away with third prize for her Officetag business

Dubai, UAE, 25 November 2015 – The Ro’Ya 2015 initiative successfully concluded with the announcement of the 2015 winners, following a ten month initiative to mentor and develop local talent in the UAE. The program, set up by the Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC) and MasterCard in 2014, came to an intense finale at the annual Gala dinner hosted at the Address Downtown,  following live presentations from the top five finalists before Leyla Lahsini was selected as the grand prize winner and rewarded with an initial investment of $50,000 towards her idea, KenziBox. This year also saw the addition of the ‘People’s Choice’ award, which was voted for live at the event by attendees, and also went to Leyla Lahsini for KenziBox.

Commenting on the conclusion of Ro’Ya 2015, HE Dr. Raja Al Gurg, President of DBWC said: “This year’s Ro’Ya participants showed more drive, originality, and entrepreneurial thinking, reaffirming the importance of this initiative to foster female talent in the UAE. Our winners not only showcased enthusiasm and eagerness in their final presentations, but also combined the right balance between creativity and business acumen – key ingredients to launch a successful business.”

Lahsini’s winning business provides arts and craft activities specially designed to stimulate children’s learning through creativity and imagination and caught the attention of the judges for its originality and innovative approach to education.  Some of the key areas focused on by the judging panel included creativity, practicality, an ability to meet the needs of the market and clarity of vision for implementation.

Commenting on her win, Lahsini said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won Ro’Ya 2015. The funding will make such a difference in driving the business and our dream forward. The mentorship, advice and guidance that the ladies and we have received throughout the program, thanks to the Dubai Business Women Council and MasterCard, will undoubtedly give us the confidence needed to grow and face any challenges head on. KenziBox is not only our business but also our passion and my partner and I are so excited to take it to the next level.”

Raghu Malhotra, President, Middle East and North Africa, MasterCard added, “At MasterCard one of our core commitments is to help drive empowerment amongst female communities as we believe they are key to the success of growing regional economies. It is therefore the duty of the private sector to partner with leading organisations such as DBWC to support the next generation of entrepreneurs through training, mentorship and opportunities. We are thrilled with the success of Ro’Ya 2015 and look forward to following the journey of this year’s winners and witnessing their ongoing success in the future.”

At the event, which was attended by all the Ro’Ya applicants, DBWC and MasterCard guests, as well as other Ro’Ya partners, the top ten finalists were announced and recognized for their submissions and accomplishments throughout the competition while the top three finalists were asked to present their ideas in front of the judges for a live deliberation.

After much suspense, Abir Moussa was awarded the third place prize for her idea Officetag and presented with $20,000 in cash and Amira Awwad took the second place spot for her idea MedsConnect and took home $30,000 which will go towards her new business idea.  All top three placing ideas will be assigned a mentor from MasterCard to help guide them through the start-up process and support them along the way.

For more information about the Ro’Ya initiative or to learn more about the DBWC,


About MasterCard

MasterCard (NYSE: MA),, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardMEA and @MasterCardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

About DBWC

Established in 2002, under the umbrella of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Dubai Business Women Council is the official representative organisation for business women, both professionals and entrepreneurs, in the Emirate of Dubai.

Building awareness, educating, promoting opportunities and enhancing positive change in the community towards the acceptance of women in business is at the heart of the DBWC’s belief in empowering women and motivating them to be productive members of the society and economy.

The ‘Network Majlis’ events are hosted monthly by the DBWC in order to provide information about the latest knowledge, skills and best practices for women entrepreneurs and leaders. For more information about DBWC and their recent activities, visit Log on to the Council’s Facebook page.

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