The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Social Fund for Development (SFD) organised a “Supporting Women in Business” forum to address and tackle the challenges that women entrepreneurs face in Egypt.
The EBRD, in close collaboration with the SFD, launched the “Women in Business” programme in Egypt in 2013, a comprehensive programme designed to promote women’s entrepreneurship by helping women-led SMEs to access know-how through advisory services for their businesses, and training, mentoring and networking opportunities.
During the event, gender and small business experts discussed the challenges and opportunities that arise for women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and concluded that creating a more favourable social and economic environment is very important for the development of women entrepreneurs in Egypt. Furthermore, lack of access to finance and entrepreneurial know-how remains an important obstacle for this group and for the growth and sustainability of their businesses.
In addition, successful stories of women-led small businesses were showcased during the event, highlighting their contribution to the economy and promoting entrepreneurship as an important source of employment for women.
Charlotte Ruhe, EBRD Director for Small Business Support, said: “Women entrepreneurs are a source of great untapped potential in Egypt. Supporting women entrepreneurs is a key part of the EBRD’s mission and over the years the Bank has developed targeted programmes to help women-led SMEs grow. Our support goes beyond finance; we provide women entrepreneurs with technical and business management training, ongoing coaching and mentoring, as well as networking opportunities and more than 85 women-led businesses have benefitted from this assistance so far.”
Soha Soliman, Managing Director of SFD, said: “the preparations for this forum come in the context of the Egyptian “Supporting Women in Business” programme aiming to improve the quality of enterprises and enhance their capacities, thereby increasing productivity, profits, and the marketability of these businesses. The programme is currently being implemented in the governorates of Greater Cairo, Western Region, Assiut, and Suhag in order to promote small businesses so that they evolve into larger enterprises.”
Soliman also added: “Supporting Women in Business” programme is one component of the agreement to support micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSME’s) in Egypt and the SFD. The agreement involves two other components, reviewing the legislative framework of MSME’s, and facilitating capacity-building of the SFD in targeting and data analysis.”
The programme, co-funded by the Bank and the Middle East and North Africa Transition Fund, is carried out by the EBRD Small Business Support team in Egypt in close collaboration with the Social Fund for Development. Since starting the programme, 47 advisory service projects have been implemented and 85 women have been trained in digital marketing, financial literacy as well as fashion design and pattern-making. In addition, through the programme four women clients have managed to get loans through the SFD for a cumulative amount of EGP 5 million.