When Lamiaa Salah told her parents that she planned to leave her home in Asyut, Egypt to pursue studies and a career in Cairo, they didn’t want her to leave.
Salah says Egypt’s conservative society sometimes presents challenges for women seeking employment, and educational and professional opportunities for women outside Cairo can be limited.
But Salah persisted, even inviting his parents to accompany him to Cairo. When they saw her passion for learning, they gained confidence in her dream of becoming a successful businesswoman.
In college, Salah became interested in sustainable development, particularly the role of women. She interviewed other women and found that many struggled with the same challenges she faced. “Young women in rural areas are hungry for education and career advancement, but they don’t know where to start,” she said.
In 2021, Salah launched the training and mentoring business TamaKani. It promotes equal access to the Egyptian labor market by providing women with vocational training skills that increase their chances of being hired.
Named after the Arabic word for ’empowerment’, TamaKani now has over 7,000 participants and has helped 150 women find jobs. Its business partners come from a range of local organizations and its participants from nine different Egyptian governorates.
Salah credits the US State Department’s Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) for helping her launch TamaKani. She is one of more than 150 AWE participants since the program entered Egypt in 2020. Globally, AWE has provided more than 16,000 women with the knowledge, networks, and access they need to start or make evolve companies since 2019.
“This program covered all the details a start-up entrepreneur needs to consider when launching a business, from naming a brand to making a business pitch to intellectual property legalities. “, Salah said.
Salah wants TamaKani to provide other Egyptian women with learning and career development opportunities. TamaKani offers over 20 professional skills training programs, including marketing and graphic design, as well as resume writing and interviewing. To match women with classes, TamaKani assesses participants’ technical skills, English skills and learning style.
TamaKani trainers, most of whom are women, measure participants’ progress throughout the program and match students with recruiting companies for jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities.
“The cultural and traditional mindset is a huge thing to change,” says Salah. “Knowing that many women face the same obstacles as me, one of my biggest dreams is to support and empower Egyptian women.”
This article was written by freelance writer Emily Zhu. A version was previously released by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.