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Princess Reema Wants More Women and Youth in The Workplace

When HRH Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud took over her family’s retail businesses, she was disappointed to find that there were very few women in their ranks. Although Saudi women are highly educated, the majority of them don’t work.

Problems like transportation and finding a daycare make it difficult for many women to get into the office (literally and figuratively), and there are restrictions on the jobs women can legally hold. Despite these obstacles, the real issue is confidence.

“We talked about financial planning, legal rights, how do you use a human resources department, what does your company owe you, what do you owe them,” she told Philanthropy Age. “When we looked at what we were doing it seemed so basic. But nobody had ever taught [the women] these things.”

She may have been surprised because she grew up in the U.S., so returning to Saudi Arabia presented new challenges and daily realities. But helping women into the workplace is part of a larger plan.

She created Alf Dharb to train youth with real work skills. She targets recent graduates and college students who have the education and knowledge to succeed, but sometimes lack office skills.

To empower entrepreneurs, she developed Alf Khair, a place for aspiring businesspeople looking to start their own business. Many of them are highly educated, but finding the resources to get their ideas off the ground is an obstacle in addition to those faced by women.

Instead of simply throwing money at aspiring businesspeople, Alf Khair offers mentorship services, with experience professionals giving advice to new entrepreneurs. Somehow, Princess Reema doesn’t seem to slow down despite all the work she does.

“If you stand still, your opposition has the power to knock you down,” she told the South by Southwest conference in America, in March. “If you keep walking, they have to follow you. I’d rather keep walking.”

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