2019 Wharton MENA Conference

Shaping a New MENA: MENA in the Global Economy

Saturday, April 6, 2019 - Sofitel Philadelphia at Rittenhouse Square


Opening Session

9:50 AM–10:00 AM

Opening Keynote
Fiscal and Economic Reforms in Lebanon

10:00 AM–10:30 AM

New Era, New Challenges: Enabling MENA’s Growth

10:30 AM–11:30 AM

Today more than ever before, the MENA region’s development agenda lies at the intersection of business, policy and politics. This panel explores the most pressing economic development challenges the region is expected to face in the coming years. It also addresses the critical role that enablers such as government policies and reforms, workforce capability building, impact investing, entrepreneurship, and technology will have to play to catalyze the region’s economic growth and foster prosperity going forward.


Empowering Women in the MENA region: Beyond Targets

11:50 AM–12:50 PM

Women are undoubtedly playing a greater role in the MENA business landscape. Public and private firms are committing to gender targets and more inclusive cultures. But what exactly are firms and governments envisioning when it comes to gender parity? What are the steps needed to realize this vision? What lessons can we learn from women who have “made it”? What challenges have they faced and what hurdles will new policies need to overcome? What can women and men do today to move the needle?


2:00 PM–2:45 PM

The VC Funding Environment in MENA: What to Expect

3:05 PM–4:05 PM

Entrepreneurship provides an important path forward in driving economic growth and diversification. The MENA region is abundant in talented, successful, and intrepid executives. Last year was a record year for entrepreneurship in MENA: the total amount of startup deals and funding reached new heights. This year has also witnessed the emergence of the region’s “first unicorn exit” with the $3Bn acquisition of Careem by Uber. While major PE firms, venture capitalists, and technology companies are increasingly betting on MENA, uncertainty remains. Entrepreneurs continue to encounter a myriad of challenges, including governmental hurdles and limited access to financing. How should the VC funding environment develop to enable the growth of the region’s thriving startup ecosystem?


Closing Keynote

4:05 PM–4:50 PM

Closing Remarks

4:50 PM–5:00 PM