Along with this headline event focusing on women, Forumtook place in Dubai, also organized a ministerial panel on the importance of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, called MSMEs, to recover from COVID. The discussions also highlighted the power of the young African generation to be crucial in attracting future foreign investment in the development of the continent.
Let Arab women shine
Addressing the panel on women’s entrepreneurship, Farida Al Awadhi, President of the Emirates Women Entrepreneurs Council, said: “Unfortunately, women in the Middle East and Arab countries have been marginalized. demeaning or misrepresenting them by the media.”
Sonya Janahi, CEO of the Arab Women’s Portal RA’EDAT, agrees and adds: “Arab women are unprecedented in many things, but unfortunately, there is still a lack of knowledge. international [about what they are doing]. So, let’s focus on letting Arab women shine, creating opportunities to work and collaborate together, and focus on how to train and develop women so that their entrepreneurial journeys can also be achieved. can be an investment journey. ”
However, all participants agreed that promoting entrepreneurship and achieving gender equality in the business world requires more opportunities for women and better access to finance. with the aim of putting female entrepreneurs on an equal footing with their male counterparts.
Get women involved in the conversation
Dr. Louiza Chitour, Program Manager of HealthTech, Plug and Play Abu Dhabi, said: “There are many initiatives to close this gap, but we are not there yet,” said: businesses Karma.
“So it was even more important for us to engage in investment conversations – how to get women to invest, how to educate them – to give them the confidence that they too can be an investor.” part of the investment world is escaping from us.”
The Women’s Empowerment Board of Directors was moderated by Ibukun Awosika, President of the International Council of Women.
Panel members include:
* Virtual – Marie-Christine Oghly, President of Global Female Business Owners (FCEM)
* Sonya Janahi, CEO, Ra’edat . Arab Women Portal pic.twitter.com/1ZFpxP3tLx
– WEIF (@weifofficial) March 29, 2022
The session moderator and President of the International Women Entrepreneurs Challenge, Ibukun Awosika, pointed out that the challenges of being a woman in the entrepreneurial world are even more difficult for Asian women entrepreneurs. Fly.
Speaking later to UN News, he said: “There are challenges based on our cultural system, there are challenges common to all male and female entrepreneurs, based on infrastructure, finance. our. [systems]a woman’s perception as opposed to a man’s, and sometimes opportunity and limitation. ”
Despite remarkable achievements in recent decades, the socio-economic disadvantage of women is still reflected in widespread gender inequality in earned income, ability to access to productive resources such as credit cards and assets, education, freedom to pursue a career, and access to finance.
Handling unequal power dynamics
Jessica Neumann, Technology and Investment Promotion Specialist and Gender Focal Point at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said that the agency is in the process of completing the investment and training of e-learning courses with its gender lens.
“We decided to design [this] virtual e-learning course with free access to really stop focusing on women and try to fix them because we are not outside the conversation about what women should do to raise money for businesses and instead of raising awareness [about] the [unfair] She explains the dynamics that exist in the financial industry.
UNIDO has long focused on gender analysis, she continued, “and in every project we undertake, we look at power dynamics such as where women are excluded, and we take steps to and measures to see that they benefit equally from our projects. So this time we’re not accelerating women, we’re talking to men and trying to make them understand that there’s a real business in investing in women. ”
Government support is seen as crucial in achieving gender equality and having more women lead their businesses.
As Chair of the Emirates Council of Women Entrepreneurs of the UAE, Farida Al Awadhi summed it up: “Yes. We can do it. But the journey will be much faster if governments come up with rules, regulations and policies to support women.”
Council of Ministers: take SMEs seriously
The Government’s provision of support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) was also mentioned by the speakers during Tuesday’s ministerial discussion.
Among the panelists were: Ibrahima Cheikh Diong, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director General of the Africa Risk Capability Cluster (ARC), Dr. Ahmed bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi; National Minister for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises in the United Arab Emirates; and Dr. Abdul Rahim Younes Ali Chad Minister of Foreign Affairs, Economy, Development Planning and International Cooperation.
The Ministerial Council highlighted the role of SMEs in developing the world economy, especially at a time of intense global challenges. With the pandemic creating unprecedented disruption to global economies and labor markets at all levels, supply chain shutdowns and shutdowns have forced the closure of many businesses. It is not surprising that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been hit the hardest.
Mr. Diong talked about the challenges Africans face in terms of investment and what needs to be done to support SMEs on the continent.
He added that when it comes to the SME sector in Africa, one thing that all agree on is that 80% of jobs on the continent are provided by African SMEs. “So it is imperative to take SMEs seriously.”
The United Nations official pointed to some of the challenges facing small and medium-sized businesses on the African continent: First, market access, he said, noting that “it is not possible to set up a project when there is no market”; second, create conditions for small and medium enterprises to access finance; and third, provide the necessary resources for capacity building.
Africa: The Investment Continent of the Future
After the session, Dr Abd al-Rahim Younes, Chad’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Economic Affairs, Development Planning and International Cooperation told UN News that Africa is the “investment continent of the future”. and note that young people make up more than 60 of the population average. This huge young cohort is currently starting up companies or looking for work in the private sector.
He points out that African governments support young people, through local, regional or international funding, and emphasizes that the continent is rich in natural resources such as water, oil, minerals. and all energy sources.
“Chad has more than 120 million heads of cattle, and more than 25 million hectares of arable land, as well as newly discovered oil fields, in addition to gold in large quantities. We look to the future and [the] investment will come from Arab countries, Europe and Asia,” he said.
Economic empowerment for Arab women
The end of the Women Entrepreneurship Advancement workshop also saw the graduation of a number of Arab female entrepreneurs from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, who have been trained in how to thrive , maintain and develop their projects.
This training, entitled ‘Economic Empowerment of Arab Women’, was conducted online by the UNIDO Technology and Investment Promotion Office.
Held under the auspices of Dubai Expo Center at Dubai Expo 2020, the biennial World Entrepreneurial Investment Forum (WEIF 2022), co-sponsored by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) / Technology and Investment Promotion Office (Bahrain), will resume on Wednesday, March 30.