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The Emirates NBD e7 Summit Paves the Way For Sustainable Social Impact in the UAE A recap of the first annual e7 Banat al Emarat- Daughters of the Emirates summit held in Dubai in early April.

By Kara Schoeffling

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Emirates NBD e7 Girls Summit

"One of the most important things that can be done to improve the state of the world is to build a framework of social and economic supports to multiply the number and the effectiveness of the world's social entrepreneurs," said David Bornstein, the preeminent author on social entrepreneurship and innovation. In early April this year, 35 young women from each of the UAE's seven Emirates gathered in Dubai for the first annual Emirates NBD e7 Banat al Emarat- Daughters of the Emirates summit with ambitions to follow through on Bornstein's words by forging the way for a bright future of social innovation in the Middle East.

The Emirates NBD e7 summit kicked off on Thursday the 9th of April with a lively dialogue of leading community and government leaders, including Aisha Abdulla Miran, Assistant Secretary General, The Executive Council, Government of Dubai, Lubna Qassim, Executive Vice President, Group General Counsel & Group Secretary, Emirates NBD, Najla Midfa, Founder, Khayarat, and Caroline Faraj, CNN Arabic Digital Services Director and CNN Dubai Chief Operations Director, all of whom shed light on the important role women should play in the UAE, both from a career and a community perspective.

Lubna Qassim, Executive Vice President, Group General Counsel & Group Secretary, Emirates NBD. Image credit: e7.

The program for the Emirates NBD e7 summit was based on a design-thinking framework that provided the platform to inspire, train and connect Emiratis and expatriates to commit to sustainable team-based initiatives. At the summit, the young women were matched with teams and mentors who will work closely with the girls on projects to improve their communities. The next milestone in the yearlong e7 initiative will be a competition for the girls to pitch their community projects in front of judges and will thus be provided with guidance to effect positive change in the UAE.

The young women heard from leading regional social entrepreneurs over the course of the three-day summit, one of which was Najla Al Midfa, community leader and founder of Khayarat, a career development platform inspiring Emirati graduates to develop their full potential. "It is our responsibility to give back to the community which has given us so much," Al Midfa said. "I want the e7 participants to never underestimate their capabilities. I'm so proud to be affiliated with this wonderful initiative. I only wish this would have existed when I was their age."

The e7, sponsored by Emirates NBD in partnership with non-profit organization Promise of a Generation, was the first event of its kind in the country, and it was well-received by the women at the summit who were thrilled to be part of a lasting platform to effect social improvement, and also become part of a growing sisterhood of young women innovating through team-based community projects that may turn into socially-responsible businesses. This initiative is unique to the UAE and the region, but it is a platform paving the way for a future of positive community projects and potentially the next generation of leading regional social entrepreneurs: young women who will have a profound effect on our community.

Kara Schoeffling is a public relations executive, working with a variety of clients across the Middle East. Enthusiastic about women’s entrepreneurship in the Middle East, Schoeffling’s background in public policy and communications has been put to work advising startups, non-profit organizations, Fortune 500 companies and governments. A graduate of Georgetown University, Schoeffling is based in the UAE. Talk to her on Twitter at @Karasdxb.
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