The New York American Marketing Association was invited to speak with a group of Saudi Arabia women entrepreneurs. The event was part of the International Visitor Leadership Program. This is the Department of State’s premier professional exchange program.
Bianca Di Salvo and Lisa Merriam, members of the board of the New York American Marketing Association and entrepreneurs themselves, met with the Saudi women at the Mission to the United Nations building in Midtown Manhattan.
The International Visitor Leadership Program hosted the Saudi Arabia women on their visit to New York. The program exposes them to examples of women entrepreneurs in the U.S, and shows how non-governmental and grassroots organizations like the American Marketing Association support and empower business.
In the last ten years Saudi Arabian leaders have been reforming the economy and opening new opportunities for women, particularly in the private sector. In 2011, the late King Abdullah Abdulaziz relaxed rules on women working under his la tahmeesh (no more marginalization) policy. The Saudi Ministry of Labor reports that in 2010, only 55,000 women were working in the private sector. By 2014, that number had grown to over 466,000.
The women shared stories of how they became entrepreneurs, what motivated them, their biggest challenges and their hopes for future business growth. The relationships started in this meeting are continuing, with the Saudis and the Americans planning ongoing networking opportunities, information exchanges and resource sharing.