Women entrepreneurs from the Mediterranean region meet to foster business and investment opportunities
•The UfM, UNIDO and ASCAME gathered over 70 Mediterranean women to enhance cooperation for creating new business opportunities for women.
•The MENA region has significant gender disparity when it comes to entrepreneurship: only 13-15% of women run their own businesses compared to 31-38% worldwide.
• The OECD estimates that by further enabling women’s economic empowerment, the MENA region could increase its GDP per capita by 25%. In EU Member States, improving gender equality would lead to a GDP per capita increase of between 6.1 and 9.6%.
•According to the UNIDO 2017 report, women in the MENA region consider access to markets, networks and finance as the keys to greater women’s entrepreneurship.
Barcelona, 20 November 2017. The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Association of the Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCAME) organised the Women’s Entrepreneurship & Investment Programme (WEIP) on 22-24 November 2017 in Barcelona. Through dedicated workshops, B2B meetings and study tours the event promoted dialogue between women entrepreneurs from both sides of the Mediterranean with the objectives of strengthening cooperation, fostering international partnerships and creating new business opportunities in the Euro-Mediterranean region. The WEIP was organised with the support of the Swedish Government.
The forum provided a unique opportunity to promote women’s entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean, where the rate of women who run their own businesses is two to three times lower than the worldwide rate. More than 70 Mediterranean women entrepreneurs exchanged experiences and best practices and explored new business and investment opportunities through networking and match-making activities.
The WEIP was a direct continuation of the three organisations’ strategies and activities towards promoting women’s economic participation, such as the UfM €4.5-million labelled project “Promoting women’s empowerment for inclusive and sustainable industrial development in the MENA region”. This project, implemented by UNIDO, involves seven Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries and is the first regional best practice with an integrated approach to support women’s entrepreneurship. As part of the project a survey targeting 1,200 women entrepreneurs was conducted. Among other conclusions, the main obstacles to entrepreneurship that were found are a lack of financing, lack of access to markets and lack of good networks.
This three-day event took place as part of the Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders which was holding its 11th edition in Barcelona. From 21st to 24th November, more than 2,000 representatives from businesses, corporations, governments and multilateral organisations from both sides of the Mediterranean basin met in order to promote stronger Euro-Mediterranean economic integration.
MedaWeek also witnessed the launch of the YouMatch – Toolbox Project online platform under the Mediterranean Initiative for Jobs (Med4Jobs). “YouMatch” provides stakeholders and practitioners from employment ministries, business associations, civil society organisations and employment promotion programmes with a platform to discuss the universal factors for success in existing employment services for young people and especially young women.
Furthermore, sustainable development was addressed at MedaWeek during the Eco Meda Green Summit, where stakeholders from the private and public sectors participated to create awareness and find synergies. The summit will feature four forums which UfM officials are to take part in.
The UfM Secretariat is actively working with all its partners across the Euro-Mediterranean region to foster development and growth via concrete projects and initiatives:
Promoting women’s empowerment for inclusive and sustainable industrial development in the MENA region. Endorsed by the 43 Union for the Mediterranean Member States and with a total budget coming to €4.5 million, the project is promoted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and partly funded by the Italian Government. The project aims to contribute to enhancing women’s economic inclusion by harnessing the great potential of women entrepreneurs in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia and creating the conditions for sustainable and inclusive growth. The study on women’s entrepreneurship development in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia, carried out as part of this project and based on 1210 respondents, highlights the obstacles and provides recommendations for women’s entrepreneurship development.
The YouMatch – Toolbox Project focuses on the link between labour supply and demand with the key idea of improving job matching for young people. The project addresses the challenge of bringing young people and especially young women into sustainable employment and offering them long-term prospects through innovative solutions. It helps to identify good examples, further develop and implement innovative labour market solutions, transfer tailored models into different country contexts and share lessons learnt.
About MedaWeek 2017: the 11th edition | Strength in Diversity: Our Economic Power
Each year MedaWeek Barcelona promotes a strong Mediterranean spirit over several days that feature a wide range of sector and thematic forums. Their innovative ideas and proposals seek to strengthen Euro-Mediterranean integration, a key prerequisite for encouraging inclusive growth in the region. Some of these proposals include support programmes for entrepreneurs, women and young people, and a commitment towards emerging sectors and the new economy.
More information about the Women’s Entrepreneurship & Investment Programme – WEIP is available on the event’s website.