When 23-year-old Algerian Naziha Deriche noticed a gap in the Saudi work market, she took it upon herself to try and fill it. 

Having grown up in the kingdom, Deriche found that female job seekers are often marginalized and not given the same opportunities as their male counterparts.   

This is why Alajnabia came to life, becoming the first job-searching platform dedicated to Saudi women.

Limited opportunities for growth for women in the kingdom

Source: Flickr

Deriche found two major breaches when it comes to women in the Saudi job market: On one hand, job opportunities are limited to certain fields, and on the other, job offers for women are inadequately advertised. 

"Women in Saudi Arabia make up a small segment of the workforce," Deriche told StepFeed, explaining that most job opportunities available for women are limited to the fields of education and healthcare. 

"The idea of women working in all fields is fairly new. Women outside of these fields have little room to explore their careers and find opportunities for growth," she adds.

Secondly, Deriche noted that most jobs available for women are advertised through word of mouth or personal references, with online platforms including limited offers for female job seekers.

She went on to say that the latter are falling victim to what she calls "an ineffective employment strategy," through which qualified job seekers are not given the same opportunities as others.  

This is where Alajnabia steps in

Having pinpointed the shortcomings in the Saudi job market, Deriche and a group of recent graduates decided to create Alajnabia, an online platform which connects employers to female job seekers in Saudi Arabia.

"The idea was inspired by seeing young females with excellent qualifications and experience come back from abroad, and be offered little to no opportunity to advance in their careers," Deriche said.

"Our aim at Alajnabia is to create a platform on which a healthy competitive environment can be established. Once this exists, the underlying issues of women unemployment can be targeted."

So, why was it called "Alajnabia" (foreigner)? 

"Alajnabia comes from the idea that women working in Saudi is still a relatively foreign concept," she explained.

How does it work?

Just like other job-hunting platforms, Alajnabia allows employers to post their vacant positions while job hunters share their resumes. 

Those looking for a bill-payer position can browse for offers by field type, job type, location, or job title.

"There are days where I feel like I'm ready to conquer the world and days where I feel like I don't have the ability to make this work"

When asked about the struggles she faced while launching the platform, Deriche said, "With the start up of every project, you face a lot of ups and downs throughout.

There are days where I feel like I'm ready to conquer the world and days where I feel like I don't have the ability to make this or the support group work." 

She went on to explain that initially, her biggest struggle was believing her idea could be realized and trigger real change.

Now, few months since the launch, the platform has seen an impressive turnout and consistent growth, according to Deriche, who said that this is just the beginning. 

"I am working on different ways to help us reach further heights within the near future," she said. "What really keeps me going is the feedback I receive from young females that tell me how thankful they are for the existence of this platform."

The Australian born Algerian was raised in the Saudi kingdom. 

She recently completed her postgraduate studies in biomedical engineering at the University of Technology Sydney and is currently working in the field. 

"I've always been passionate about the power of education and how it can be used to bridge gaps in our societies," said Deriche. 

"I saw something missing here in Saudi Arabia and took it upon myself to do something about it."

This profile is part of StepFeed's Featured Arabs series, featuring Arabs you should know about. Read last week's here.