Majd Mashhawari is the 25-year-old CEO of GreenCake, a Gaza Strip-based startup that designs and manufacturers bricks made from recycled local materials. When Mashhawari graduated from Gaza's Islamic University with an engineering degree in 2015, her family expected that she would follow the usual path for young women in Gaza and get married without ever having a career. Instead, she decided to work on solving a persistent local challenge: Local buildings destroyed by war couldn't easily be rebuilt because many construction materials couldn't make it over the border.
Mashhawari invented a new process for making a strong, low-cost brick from ashes that would otherwise be wasted. She also created a model for a new women-led business, putting other women in leadership positions. The startup is now financially self-sustaining, and Mashhawari is seeking investment to expand. She also continues to develop new products, including an off-grid solar kit called SunBox.