City skyline view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Empowering Saudi Women Through Entrepreneurship

USCG Jeddah seal logo


The University of Texas at Austin’s Global Innovation Lab (GIL) is pleased to host the Empowering Saudi Women Through Entrepreneurship program in partnership with the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the U.S. Consulate General Jeddah.

This initiative focuses on building the capacity of women entrepreneurs in western Saudi Arabia to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem and expand access to Saudi domestic and global markets.

Program Details

With an engaging curriculum that combines immersive in-person learning with self-paced training and workshops, participants will learn the essential building blocks of creating and growing a successful business venture, as well as methods for crafting unique business models to bring new products and services to market.

The program is designed to:

  • Identify women entrepreneurs who are developing technologies and products with global export and growth potential to help solve pressing Saudi societal and economic challenges, particularly in the underserved area of western Saudi Arabia.
  • Transfer the knowledge necessary for starting a successful entrepreneurial venture and building capacity to ensure long-term sustainability.
  • Promote entrepreneurship as a means to stimulate economic growth, create better-quality jobs, open new markets and increase global economic security and prosperity.
  • Create, strengthen and expand a women’s entrepreneurship network in Saudi Arabia that encourages and facilitates the transfer of skills and sharing of resources between members.
  • Explore opportunities to introduce selected Saudi women entrepreneurs to the extensive global network of The University of Texas at Austin and to the city of Austin’s vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, thereby broadening participants’ global influence and impact.
  • Design a sustainable strategic plan to offer program participants relevant knowledge and skills of lasting value that will remain applicable to their work beyond the term of the program.

The program takes place September 2021–September 2022 and implements the Innovation Readiness® Series, GIL’s online self-paced entrepreneurship training, web-enabled sessions and in-person workshops. The program will train up to 50 entrepreneurs, eventually selecting 10 to travel to Austin for gaining exposure to the top-rated U.S. entrepreneurial ecosystem. There, the 10 participants will receive training in business modeling, market assessment and effective company governance.

About KAUST and the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) advances science and technology through distinctive and collaborative research integrated with graduate education. Home to over 7,000 community members inclusive of faculty, graduate students, research scientists, and postdoctoral fellows from over 100 countries, the university’s 10 research centers focus on finding solutions to problems in areas related to water, food, energy and the environment.

The KAUST Entrepreneurship Center focuses on technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, making it one of Saudi Arabia’s leading entrepreneurial training programs. The center operates ongoing startup accelerators and offers education opportunities to students, faculty, staff, visitors and industry partners. To date, the center has trained more than 11,000 innovators, more than 250 of whom have launched and scaled their own brands and startups.

About UT Austin and the Global Innovation Lab

The University of Texas at Austin, founded in 1883, ranks among the 40 top universities in the world. It supports over 51,000 diverse students with close to 50 nationally ranked programs across 18 colleges and schools. The university contributes to the advancement of society through research, creative activity, scholarly inquiry and the development and dissemination of new knowledge, including the commercialization of University discoveries.

The UT Austin Global Innovation Lab (GIL) partners with governments, universities and industries to train and support entrepreneurs in their communities for overcoming local challenges, creating jobs and driving sustainable economic development. Since 2000, GIL has carried out high-quality training programs in 44 countries, resulting in the creation of 15,000 new jobs and the generation of $1.5 billion in global economic impact.

About the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah and its Efforts to Promote Women Entrepreneurship in the Western Region of Saudi Arabia

The Public Affairs Section at the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah works with American and Saudi partners to build long-term, mutually beneficial connections. Among the consulate’s current priorities are grant-funded programs that help advance many of the goals outlined in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. These projects, including several focused on women’s entrepreneurship, contribute to economic diversification, job creation, and GDP growth in western Saudi Arabia in order to support U.S. interests in Saudi Arabia’s long-term economic and social stability.