EBRD 2017 Annual Meeting: the private sector and economic inclusion

By Nibal Zgheib

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In the EBRD regions – as well as in many other parts of the world – women, the young and people living in remote areas still face numerous barriers in accessing economic opportunities, such as jobs or quality education.

During the launch of the EBRD’s first Economic Inclusion Strategy at the Bank’s 2017 Annual Meeting in Cyprus,  Adel Elboseli, Cofounder of the crowdfunding group Shekra , gave one very telling example.

He told the story of a young Egyptian girl, Mona, working towards her high school education. Mona could not be seen leaving her village in the morning to go to school, nor coming back from it. Girls like Mona weren’t supposed to be educated or preparing for a job – that was a shameful thing for a young woman.

Nonetheless, Mona persevered with her studies then took up a training offer in the biogas industry, supported by Mr Elboseli. Her training gave her the skills and knowledge to become a successful entrepreneur and create her own company, which now provides biogas and fertilizer units to  farmers across  Egypt.

“Mona just wanted to be educated and make her parents proud and we helped her achieve that. Everybody needs inclusion, but very few young women in our region achieve it”, Mr Elboseli said.  

Under the new Strategy, the EBRD will intensify its work on inclusion, widening and deepening   its private-sector approach.  

“The EBRD uses the leverage of the private sector to create paths for training and entrepreneurship for everyone. Promoting an inclusive market system is key” said EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti.

During the panel discussion to launch the Strategy, Andri Dykun, Chairman, Ukrainian Agri Council, said millions of dollars had been invested in in Ukraine’s farms but the country was now running out of well qualified farmers that are equipped with the skills to innovate.

The Ukrainian Agri Council had therefore decided to invest in its children and how to educate them. “We are changing the system and we have started training our teachers,” he said. The council would now open a technical agricultural school and offer routes into well paid, decent jobs in the sector.

Dragica Pilipović Chaffey, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, United Group RS, said her company actively went out to seek high achieving students and to work with them, giving them the opportunity to acquire expertise and knowledge to use for their future.

Uwe Wieckenberg, from the Elsewedy Technical Academy in Egypt, said there was a big disconnect between the worlds of education and employment. The educational system did not equip the students for the skills needed for later employment.

The Elsewedy School provided education on site with two days of theory and four days of practical work. This was preparing them for the jobs market.

Iveta Radičová, former Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, concluded the discussion by saying that the EBRD had an important role to play in contributing to greater economic inclusion.

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