UNIDO convenes round table on access to finance for women entrepreneurs in the MENA region

Rome - 4 April 2017

UNIDO convenes round table on access to finance for women entrepreneurs in the MENA region

Rome, 4 April 2017 – Leaders of women’s business associations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) among others discussed access to finance for women entrepreneurs in a round table organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Directorate General for Development Cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs(DGCS), the Italian Agency of Cooperation for Development (AICS); Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the Entrepreneurs Association and Women Business Leaders (AIDDA) in Rome.

Entitled “Access to finance: challenges and good practices to support women in business in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia,” the round table convened ministers of industry, gender specialists in international organizations and development agencies, leading women entrepreneurs and many more. Among the high-level speakers, H.E. Hussein El Hage Hassan, Minister of Industry, Lebanon; Amb. Pietro Sebastiani, Director General, Directorate General for Development Cooperation; Ms. Delphine Borione, Deputy Director, Union for the Mediterranean;  and Ms. Laura Frigenti, Director Italian Agency for International Cooperation (AICS). Participants discussed what measures governments can adopt to ensure greater women entrepreneurship and shared good practices to accelerate access to finance for women’s economic empowerment. Ms. Frigenti remarked “The glass ceiling is still weighing on women. We need to fight the stereotypes by giving positive examples, role models are very important.”

The round table also involved the launch of the UNIDO Technical Paper “A study on Women Entrepreneurship Development in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia.” Based on an extensive survey of over 1,200 women entrepreneurs in the region, the research was part of the UNIDO project “Promoting women empowerment for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development in the MENA region,” funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI), executed by UNIDO and labeled by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM).

Panelists in the round table discussed lessons to learn from the Technical Paper and how key stakeholders can integrate its recommendations to enhance women’s economic empowerment. Key challenges that women entrepreneurs face that came up in the Technical Paper’s discussion included the regulatory environment, access to new and international markets, and in some cases, cost of public services and lack of economic growth. Remarking that “Women entrepreneurship is strategic for employment,” Amb. Sebastiani went on to say that women are solution makers, peacemakers, and game changers.

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