Over the course of 2.5 years, the project contributed to enhance women’s economic inclusion by harnessing the great potential of women entrepreneurs in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia and create the conditions for a sustainable and inclusive growth.
Women’s economic participation and empowerment are fundamental to strengthening women’s rights. But even more so, women’s entrepreneurship is an untapped source of growth, prosperity and poverty reduction, as well as being fundamental to women’s empowerment for creating more equitable societies.
Labelled by the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean in November 2015 with a total budget of 4,5M€, the project was promoted by United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and partially funded by the Italian Government. It constituted the first regional best practice with an integrated approach to support women entrepreneurship on three levels: macro (policy dialogue), meso (reinforcing the capacities of the women business associations) and micro level (strengthening the entrepreneurship capacities of women entrepreneurs).
The objectives of the project were as following:
- Provide empirical evidence and baseline data for policy and decision makers to take informed decisions and nurture the formulation of policy recommendations with the aim to feed targeted policy reforms for a more conducive environment for women entrepreneurship.
- Building the capacities of the MENA Business Women’s Associations (BWA) through Training of Trainers programs and the capacity of individual women entrepreneurs through training of entrepreneurs.
- Identifying investment opportunities and facilitating access to finance through promotion of promising investment proposals with Regional and International Financial Institutions such as the Union for Arab Banks, the joint World Bank/IFC and Goldman Sachs Fund, EBRD, and other national and regional development Banks.
The activities of the project brought the following concrete results:
- Strengthened capacities for at least 400 representatives of women business associations, banks and Business Development Services, for providing entrepreneurship development services to other women.
- Trained and counselled more than 2000 women entrepreneurs on entrepreneurship development and business plan formulation.
- Facilitated access to investment and finance of at least 500 promising businesses opportunities.
- Contributed to the creation of 800 new jobs by the end of the project.
The second phase of the project is expected to be launched during 2019.
About the promoter and partner institutions
UNIDO is recognized as a highly relevant, specialized and efficient provider of key services in support to the interlinked challenges of reducing poverty through productive activities and SMEs development, with special regard to youth and women. More specifically, the project will be implemented by the Investment and Technology Unit (ITU) which is part of the UNIDO Business, Investment and Technology Branch (BIT). UNIDO’s ITU has a vast experience in the area of investment promotion & entrepreneurship development and has the capacity to offer TA specific tools and methodologies to boost enterprise creation and growth.