The island kingdom of Bahrain is noted among its Middle Eastern neighbors are being one of the most forward-thinking and liberal countries, especially when it comes to the role of women in its society. The first schools for women opened in 1928, and the Royal University for Women was founded in 2005, becoming the first private, purpose-built, international university for the education of Bahrain’s women.
“We’ve seen women participate quite heavily when it comes to FinTech in Bahrain,” said Dalal Buhejji (pictured), senior manager of business development, financial services, at the Bahrain Economic Development Board, and chairperson of the Women in FinTech Initiative. “And that’s not something that’s new to Bahrain. We’ve seen women that [have been] a part of the financial services sector for many decades.”
Buhejji spoke with John Furrier, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the AWS Summit event in Bahrain. They discussed a new initiative for women in FinTech, as well as a surprise call prompted by a photo posted online. (* Disclosure below.)
Investing in women and FinTech, together
Bahrain’s unique location, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, as well as its historical role as a trade hub, has made it a natural area for financial technology for some years now. As the government has invested heavily in FinTech and as it moves toward innovation and digitization, more and more of its women are becoming involved as well, according to Buhejji.
“Naturally, as the financial services sector innovates, women will be part of this move,” Buhejji said.
One of the most recent initiatives is Women in FinTech Bahrain, a network made up of professional women who are in financial services or other areas of banking. The organization is open to women who work in banks and who have founded FinTech companies, as well as finance-related entrepreneurs who are working to attract new business and investors to Bahrain. The group is looking to include all women accelerators and innovators to lead the way forward for Bahrain FinTech.
“There’s a lot of women in this FinTech ecosystem, and … a lot of them want to also be part of it,” Buhejji said. “So, why don’t we build awareness, empower more women, invite more women to come and be part of the growth of the FinTech ecosystem in Bahrain?”
The group got together for a photo that was posted on social media, and then a surprise happened: The photo was noticed by an investor.
“I got a phone call a week ago from a … venture capital [firm that] happens to be run by a woman,” Buhejji said. “It’s all about women entrepreneurs that seed money into FinTech companies or startup companies that are funded by women. So it’s all about the network.”
Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the AWS Summit Bahrain event. (* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for AWS Summit Bahrain 2018. Neither Amazon Web Services Inc. and the Bahrain Economic Development Board, the event sponsors, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)