Hanane Benkhallouk, Architect of Change

Dubai, UAE

“I am privileged to call three places home. I was made in Casablanca, shaped in New York City and now I’m thriving in Dubai. I left Morocco for NYC to do my MBA. I went back home upon graduation but found the pace to be too slow. I had gotten used to the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple and so I went back to NYC to work. While there, I was introduced by friends to an Arab woman that needed help. She had been married at the age of 19 to an Arab man living in New York thinking she bought her ticket to a comfortable life but was let down upon coming to the US. The husband did not want her anymore. She was alone and did not speak English well. I wanted to help her but was not sure why. I then discovered that she had the gift for making jewellery. So I put my MBA skills to use to help her market her jewellery and set up a pop-up shop to sell her designs. I stuck by her side until she became an entrepreneur with a full-fledged business. That story marked me and made me realize what my passion was: helping people turn their ideas into sustainable businesses. I also wanted to create a safe space for women to thrive. My work with entrepreneurs led me to Dubai. Today, my mission is to contribute proactively to shift the economy in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region to a knowledge-based economy through working with entrepreneurs, women and youth. Our biggest resource is human capital. And women make up 60% of the economy in the MENA region. There’s a solid business case for advancing women. It’s also the right thing to do.” Hanane Benkhallouk, Architect of Change and Executive Director, Sustain Leadership Consultancy

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