The LINK - Creating more Inspiring Women

The LINK - Creating more Inspiring Women

Dubai, United Arab EmiratesDubai, United Arab Emirates
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The LINK empowers women through co-learning and self-development; growing today's talent pool into tomorrow's female leaders.The LINK is an active community platform connecting women in 1-to-1 mentoring, providing a safe space to explore & reflect on workplace challenges to advance professionally.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if women empower each other to get ahead & follow their passion without judging each other choices?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Worldwide, women hold 15% of leadership positions at Fortune 500 companies. This trend is mirrored in the UAE. Although women dominate in higher education, they lag behind in the workforce. The ratio of women to men in senior roles is 0.11 in the UAE (Global Gender Gap Report 2012). According to the Arab Women Leadership Outlook, three key challenges impede women’s advancement: lack of role models, lack of proper mentoring and lack of confidence.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The LINK will bridge the gap for female university graduates entering the workforce and help young women advance by offering a free mentorship program, giving young women access to role models & bolstering confidence. The LINK provides exposure to fresh perspectives and external thinking that promotes innovation. With a structured, monitored and impactful program, alumni mentees will return as mentors thus creating a sustainable cycle of collective growth. As The LINK grows, we will be growing the talent pool and ensuring more inspiring women make their mark in the professional world.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The LINK has just begun a pilot phase in October 2013. The process requires the mentors and mentees to complete an application, attend a face-to-face interview and participate in a training session prior to being matched in a mentoring relationship. One mentee interviewed was a highly educated recent graduate struggling to retain a job that met cultural and family expectations. She arrived at the group training to inform us that since The LINK interview she has secured a job that meets her needs and family concerns for her as a young woman in relation to acceptable working hours.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The LINK will launch in early 2014. To date, the pilot phase of The LINK has demonstrated initial impact on the young women who have been selected as mentees. The LINK will gather feedback from mentees and mentors on a quarterly basis and for several years after completion of the mentorship. The data collected will assess if the mentorship changed the career prospects of the mentee, enabled career progression, promotions or helped the mentee overcome specific challenges they can attribute wholly or in part to the mentorship. With corporate and academic partners, we can measure promotion rate for LINK participants versus non-participants. On long-term impact, “if the number of females in the workplace were raised to the same level as that of men in the UAE, GDP would expand by 12%.” (Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, IMF, Women and the World Economy, Project Syndicate, 24 Sept 2013)
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Mentoring is free. The LINK revenue streams: (a) corporations pay to enroll young recruits in The LINK Mentoring. With data showing mentees have higher job satisfaction and stay longer in jobs, the LINK is supporting recruitment and retention practices; (b) most universities in the UAE lack career services but could send mentees to The LINK on a paying model; (c) fee for monthly LINK events. Start-up costs covered by grants/corporate donations.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The LINK is for professional women across industries. There are other organizations in the UAE providing specialized mentoring services; for entrepreneurs (by C3) or high-school students (by Injaz). Other competition would be in-house corporate mentorship programs although this is a recent phenomenon in the UAE. Compared to such programs, The LINK mentees can openly discuss issues without fear of repercussion in the workplace. Other women’s groups offer mentoring on an ad-hoc basis. As opposed to The LINK, results and impact are not monitored nor are these activities structured or sustainable.
Team

Founding Story

The Founders met at a pre-workshop for the CSR Summit in Dubai. Participants were challenged to develop a social project. Our team was tasked to create an initiative for women’s empowerment that would make a difference in the community. We quickly realized that women of all nationalities were not getting ahead in the workplace. Many cultures and beliefs are at play in the UAE to hold women back. Emirati women face specific challenges to entering and excelling in the private sector. We held three focus groups representing our target audiences. It was unanimously agreed that young professional women lack the same support network as young men. The response to our proposed initiative was overwhelming and we do not want to let these women down.
About You
Organization:
The LINK (organisation in founding)
About You
First Name

Linda

Last Name

Merieau

About Your Organization
Organization Name

The LINK (organisation in founding)

Organization Country

, DU, Dubai

Country where this project is creating social impact

, DU, Dubai

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Project
Year founded

2013

Impact
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date?

The LINK will launch in early 2014. To date, the pilot phase of The LINK has demonstrated initial impact on the young women who have been selected as mentees. The LINK will gather feedback from mentees and mentors on a quarterly basis and for several years after completion of the mentorship. The data collected will assess if the mentorship changed the career prospects of the mentee, enabled career progression, promotions or helped the mentee overcome specific challenges they can attribute wholly or in part to the mentorship. With corporate and academic partners, we can measure promotion rate for LINK participants versus non-participants. On long-term impact, “if the number of females in the workplace were raised to the same level as that of men in the UAE, GDP would expand by 12%.” (Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, IMF, Women and the World Economy, Project Syndicate, 24 Sept 2013)

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Barriers would include difficulty attracting young women to participate in the mentoring program, particulary for those who lack self-confidence and may not come forward. This will be overcome through promoting The LINK programs and raising awareness on how a mentor can guide and assist a young women navigate workplace challenges. Another barrier may be recruiting young Emirati women. We plan to address this by recruiting Emirati women as mentors and on our Advisory Committee. We have already secured an influential Emirati businesswoman, as Honorary Chairperson. A final barrier is funding.

Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

We intend to spread The LINK across the UAE once we have fully tested the concept and processes in Dubai. We are currently negotiating a partnership with the Dubai Business Women's Coucil and could replicate the same within other Emirates. We intend to bring the LINK to other countries in the Middle East and subcontinent. The concept is easily replicated with little investment that would be secured through corporate partners having a vested interest in diversity and promoting female leadership. The LINK Founders would provide the model for creating a LINK branch and give training to new organizations to set up and deliver the mentoring program and associated skills training. Spreading The LINK would further connect women across regions.

Sustainability
Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Mentoring is free. The LINK revenue streams: (a) corporations pay to enroll young recruits in The LINK Mentoring. With data showing mentees have higher job satisfaction and stay longer in jobs, the LINK is supporting recruitment and retention practices; (b) most universities in the UAE lack career services but could send mentees to The LINK on a paying model; (c) fee for monthly LINK events. Start-up costs covered by grants/corporate donations.

Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

The Founders met at a pre-workshop for the CSR Summit in Dubai. Participants were challenged to develop a social project. Our team was tasked to create an initiative for women’s empowerment that would make a difference in the community. We quickly realized that women of all nationalities were not getting ahead in the workplace. Many cultures and beliefs are at play in the UAE to hold women back. Emirati women face specific challenges to entering and excelling in the private sector. We held three focus groups representing our target audiences. It was unanimously agreed that young professional women lack the same support network as young men. The response to our proposed initiative was overwhelming and we do not want to let these women down.

Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

Corporate partners will provide financial support and access to mentors and mentees. The business community has an interest in nurturing the female talent pool. The LINK mentoring supports professional development objectives of HR departments and provides volunteer opportunities for senior women in support of corporate CSR objectives. University partners would provide a stream of mentees and support research on female progression in work.

Women Powering Work
Is your project targeted at solving any of the following challenges?

Building self-confidence and networks through role models, mentors, public campaigns, and more

Does your project utilize any of the strategies below?

Group learning experiences such as hands-on learning projects, cooperatives, collectives, support groups, and more