Areen Shahbari '11SM is Helping Women Create Sustainable Businesses

August 12, 2015

Areen Shahbari

MBA Alumna Areen Shahbari founded Cactus to educate women in the MENA region about entrepreneurship.

Complete article first appeared in Spring 2015 SOM Management Magazine

A Fulbright Alumna, I am a social entrepreneur and an international multilingual media and business professional, with experience in entrepreneurship, management, business consulting, media and TV anchoring. 

I am the founder and CEO of Cactus, an organization that aims to fight the chronic unemployment among Arab women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by teaching, training, and consulting women on how to start scalable and sustainable businesses. In less than two years, Cactus’s workshops, lectures and counseling services have empowered, inspired, and promoted entrepreneurship among more than 1000 women. 

In addition, Cactus has launched intensive entrepreneurship courses in which 90 female participants have enrolled, 33 percent of whom started or grew their businesses while employing more than 150 employees. Eighty percent of these employees are women and 40 percent of them gained employment after graduating from Cactus. In 2010, I won the Simmons Silverman Business Plan Competition and I was a finalist of the 2011 NAWMBA Strategy Competition and a 2012 finalist of the Echoing Green Business Plan Competition.


Areen Shahbari now teaches in the School of Management. View Areen Shahbari's faculty profile.

Read complete article from Spring 2015 Simmons SOM Management Magazine