You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Muna Al Gurg Launches Meem Foundation To Create Sustainable Change In The Lives Of Women And Girls In The MENA "Our approach is to find innovative entrepreneurial solutions to gender inequality, and be transparent about what works and what doesn't."

By Aby Sam Thomas

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Meem Foundation
Muna Al Gurg, founder, Meem Foundation

"Meem Foundation's vision is a world where all women and girls can achieve their ambitions." With just this one line, Muna Al Gurg encapsulates the essence of her newest undertaking, and given all of the accomplishments that this Emirati businesswoman and philanthropist has had in her career so far, one cannot help but be excited about the impact that Meem Foundation -an entity seeking to create sustainable social change in the lives of women and girls in the MENA region- can potentially have.

However, for those of you who might not be as familiar with Al Gurg and her exploits, an introduction is in order. Al Gurg is perhaps best known for being the Vice Chairperson and Director of Retail at the UAE-born conglomerate, Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, but her interests (and reach) go far beyond her family business. In the realm of entrepreneurship, for instance, she has actively aided the growth of the region's startup ecosystem for many years now, be it as an investor (she was famously the only individual Emirati shareholder in the Dubai-born Careem before its acquisition in 2019), or an enabler (she is the Chairwoman of Young Arab Leaders, a regional organization that promotes education, entrepreneurship, and youth development).

Al Gurg has also been a passionate proponent of women in the Arab world for many years now- one of her legacies is the Muna Al Gurg Scholarship that she rolled out in 2015 at the London Business School in the UK, which has since provided over AED1.5 million in financial assistance, enabling aspiring women from the Middle East to pursue their educational goals, and accelerate their careers. Meem Foundation is thus yet another initiative that Al Gurg is pursuing to make a meaningful impact in the lives of women in this region.

Source: Meem Foundation

"Our mission is to bridge the gender gap in the Middle East and North Africa by creating more economic opportunity and greater access to healthcare for women and girls," Al Gurg says. "What's unique is our use of data-driven decision making, and an emphasis on measuring and sharing outcomes. Rather than traditional charity, we are focused on strategic philanthropy that emphasizes accountability and sustainability. Our approach is to find innovative entrepreneurial solutions to gender inequality, and be transparent about what works and what doesn't."

Related: The Futurist: H.E. Ohood Al Roumi, UAE Minister Of State For Government Development And The Future

Meem Foundation's approach to create economic opportunities for women, as opposed to just monetary support, is in line with the need of the hour. A 2021 report by UNICEF had noted that women in the Middle East and Africa face gender gap issues currently due to global and regional shifts such as "political and economic upheaval, conflict, occupation, and the COVID-19 pandemic."

It's against this backdrop that Meem Foundation thus aims to create pathways for women and girls to achieve economic empowerment, while also ensuring they receive safe healthcare services and health awareness. And with Al Gurg at its helm, the enterprise seems to be set for success, given how she, thanks to her family and upbringing, has always been keen on giving back to society. "From an early age, I've been exposed to conversations about, and acts of, philanthropy, as my parents supported many charitable causes, ranging from healthcare and education, to the integration of refugees," Al Gurg says. "I've spent a lot of time thinking about my own values, my lived experiences, and the longer-term impact I hope to have in the world. This has informed the creation of my foundation. The foundation is focused on creating more opportunities for women and girls – creating more agency, voice, and choice. We've had an overwhelmingly positive response and support on the launch of the foundation, and we are looking forward to creating sustainable social change in the lives of all women and girls in the MENA region."

Eureka! Muna Al Gurg on how to make an idea a great one

Progress through iteration "I think it's important to spend time understanding what problems exist and why. And then come up with ideas to address them. Research what's failed and what doesn't work in your context, market, community or specific setting. Then develop an idea, test it, and repeat."

Create time for ideation, and funding for experimentation "I believe in fostering dialogue and discussion in any enterprise and creating an internal think-tank where employees meet quarterly and discuss topics unrelated to the company which could result in the next big idea! Additionally creating a small R&D budget that provides funding to innovative solutions will drive a collaborative culture within the community."

Related: Entrepreneur Middle East's Achieving Women 2023: Rita Huang, Founder And CEO, iMile

Aby Sam Thomas

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.

Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.  

Side Hustle

This Dad Started a Side Hustle to Save for His Daughter's College Fund — Then It Earned $1 Million and Caught Apple's Attention

In 2015, Greg Kerr, now owner of Alchemy Merch, was working as musician when he noticed a lucrative opportunity.

Business News

This One Word Is a Giveaway That You Used ChatGPT to Write an Email, According to an Expert

"Delve" has increased its presence in written work since ChatGPT entered the scene.

Side Hustle

This Insurance Agent Started a Side Hustle Inspired By Nostalgia for His Home State — Now It Earns Nearly $40,000 a Month

After moving to New York City, Danny Trejo started a business to stay in touch with his roots — literally.

Business News

Side Hustles Are Soaring as Entrepreneurs Start Businesses Working Part- or Full-Time Elsewhere, According to a New Report

The younger the entrepreneur, the more likely they were to start a business as a side hustle.

Starting a Business

This Teacher and Mom Was Investigated by the Department of Education (Twice) for Being Too Good. She Used the Experience to Create a Million Dollar Business.

The CEO of Top Score Writing discusses how she founded her curriculum company and the lessons learned along the way.

Health & Wellness

This 103-Year-Old Doctor Opened Her Medical Practice Before Women Could Have Bank Accounts — Here Are Her 6 Secrets to a Healthy, Successful Life

Dr. Gladys McGarey started medical school in 1941 and helped pioneer the holistic medicine movement in the U.S.