Context and objectives
In order to stimulate the creation of business networks for women entrepreneurs and women-led businesses in the region, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) have joined forces with Business Club Africa, a network gathering more than 6000 executives across the African continent and around the world, to launch the MENA Women Business Club.
As a regional chapter of Business Club Africa, new members will have access to an extensive ecosystem of entrepreneurs, lawyers, consultants, executives, and investors in sectors as varied as energy, agriculture, mining, tech, construction, finance, retail & distribution that will enable the Club members to network and grow their business. The MENA Women Business Club is therefore an important opportunity to intensify Euro-Mediterranean business linkages and to foster investment opportunities including with the diaspora.
Following a call for participation in 2021, some 136 selected women entrepreneurs joined the MENA Women Business Club beginning 2022 with a launch event that included a masterclass in digital marketing and networking ateliers.
The MENA region continues to register one of the weakest female labour force participation rates globally, together with a women’s unemployment rate that averages about 20%, more than twice as high as men’s. In addition, relative to the rest of the world, the percentage of women entrepreneurs in the MENA region who own or manage businesses barely reaches 5%, compared to the global average of 23-26%.
This low rate of participation can be explained to a great extent by difficulties in accessing business support services and networks, by the limited access to productive resources– particularly finance, the lack of skills and training opportunities. For the latest figures please check the UfM mechanism on gender.
- United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in partnership with Business Club Africa and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) within the framework of the programme “Promoting Women Empowerment for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development in the MENA Region – Phase II” (PWE II).
- Business Club Africa – a private network of senior-level executives operating across all industries in and outside Africa
Regional Observatory of Agriculture and Development (AORADRSC) (Morocco)
The MENA Women Business Club intends to create better networking opportunities to face those issues and support women-led businesses to scale-up in the region.
The Business club members will have access to mentoring and networking opportunities with an extensive ecosystem of entrepreneurs, lawyers, consultants, executives, and investors in sectors as varied as energy, agriculture, mining, tech, construction, finance, retail & distribution. This will enable the Club members to network and grow their business.
The members of the club will also have access to a series of external master classes and events such as the 7th EU-Africa Business Forum (EABF) in February 2022, focused on connecting the Mediterranean and African value chains, and the UfM Women Business Forum in June 2022, focused on access to finance.
The MENA Women Business Club will offer hundreds of women-owned and women-led businesses from across the MENA region the opportunity to grow their business, expand their network and develop new competencies through dedicated mentoring and networking programmes.
Networking and promotion to raise the profile of local business communities and women entrepreneurship, and ensure sustainability and replicability of results.