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Mentoring for empowerment

Saudi Arabia is experiencing a once-in-a-generation economic transformation. Financial literacy is key to achieve Saudi Vision 2030, the government’s strategic plan to diversify the economy away from oil.

Saudi women are expected to play an important role in the strategy, which will improve the Kingdom’s record of female empowerment and gender equality. As reforms take place across the country, the number of Saudi women holding managerial roles has increased – a positive change in the historic imbalance against women.

Our people are playing a role too. In December 2019, Princess Nourah University (PNU) students participated in a hackathon developed in collaboration with Dublin City University (DCU), which was sponsored and mentored by the Deloitte Digital Center in Riyadh. The theme? The role of financial education in the empowerment and inclusion of women in Saudi Arabia. Three volunteers tell us more.

"It was a chance for us to put the skills we have learned and developed, that we would typically use for client work, to help these young ambitious women in any way we can."

Arwa Aljalahma, Senior Consultant Deloitte Saudi Arabia

The volunteers

Joud Alohali focuses on finance transformation. Day to day she helps clients mainly in the public sector to tackle the critical issues facing their finance organisations.

“I spoke to the students about their projects and evaluated whether they had the potential to go further in the competition. We then held the hackathon at the Deloitte Digital Center – taking the students out of their comfort zone! Deloitte mentors with diverse backgrounds and the PNU team assisted the 41 undergraduate and graduate students to digitise their concepts from idea generation through to final pitches.”

Arwa Aljalahma specialises in environment and international development. Her clients are in the public sector, and her focus is mainly on socio-economic development.

“In groups of two we spoke to all the teams individually. Being in Monitor Deloitte and having a background in strategy, I was encouraging the students to always look at the big picture, while my partner mentor, having a digital background, would challenge the students on the digital and technical aspects of their projects.”

Buthaina Alwahbi works in the Customer & Client Marketing team, focusing on user experience and user interface design.

“I found it really interesting to evaluate all the projects – what was unique, how can they improve the idea or how can they use digital strategies more. They took it seriously, they had built prototypes, analysed the market, looked at making the experience digital… and more.”

The winning idea

Nashrat Almanazil, a group of young and talented women, were the hackathon winners, with their idea to create a podcast channel to increase the financial literacy levels of stay-at- home women. The team had also proactively contacted some key women in the media, with different views on financial independency and financial budgeting, to interview them and get them involved.

Another impressive idea was a digital money card for children to use at school, instead of carrying cash. It would give them rewards for completing their homework and volunteering, and advice on budgeting and saving money.

The bigger picture

The initiative is part of wider collaboration between Deloitte and PNU/DCU – aiming to improve financial literacy amongst Saudi women. They directly support WorldClass, our ambition to impact 50 million futures by 2030 – with 200,000 targeted in the Middle East region.

“I truly believe that liberty for a woman comes from the ability to make financial decisions for her life. […] The PNU Student and Deloitte collaboration is a prime example of that belief in action. Using the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the students have showcased how innovative educational solutions can be used to address this issue in both a higher education setting and in the wider community.“

H.R.H. Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud, Saudi Ambassador to the US

So far, the initiative has been in the spotlight through a dedicated social media campaign, an academic paper and several award nominations.

Did you know...

… that Deloitte Ireland collaborated with Dublin City University (DCU) to organise Hack4Change, a five-day-long social innovation hackathon aimed at challenging societal issues for DCU students around the same time? Read more about it here.

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