EBRD donors support inclusion and promote gender equality

By Volker Ahlemeyer

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Opening up economic opportunities for all regardless of their circumstances

“It is not easy for young people to find employment,” says Osama Hassan Al-Khudari, assistant chef in a local café in Jordan’s capital Amman. “Thanks to the training I received, I was able to get a job that I love. I learned about the best ways of dealing with customers and fellow employees. This was in addition to other customer service skills I gained.”

He is one of 120 young Jordanians who took part in a course at the Abdali training centre. The centre was established with funding from Korea, the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund and a contribution from the client, the Abdali Mall company. This is directly linked to an EBRD investment of US$ 80 million to develop the Abdali shopping and entertainment centre in Amman.

About a third of young people aged under 25 are unemployed or not enrolled in a training programme in the country. This does not only cause financial problems and stress to those affected, but it also means that Jordan loses out on their potential and economic contribution.

Inclusive economies to provide sustainable growth

This project in Jordan is one example of how the EBRD contributes to building more inclusive economies. In Jordan alone, such activities are expected to provide access to thousands of local jobs in the retail and hospitality sectors.

“Gaining experience and finding skilled employees are common challenges for job seekers and employers,” said Abdelmajid Al Kabariti, CEO of United Real Estate Company-Jordan. “We are proud to offer training programmes and significantly improve their employment opportunities.”

There and elsewhere, the EBRD’s activities aim to open up economic opportunities to under-served social groups, regardless of their gender, place of birth, socio-economic environment, age or other circumstances.

This is why, for instance, economic inclusion is part of the EBRD’s refugee response plan in Jordan and Turkey. The topic was also at the forefront in the EBRD’s latest Transition Report Transition for all: Equal opportunities in an unequal world.

The EBRD’s donors support such activities to increase access to finance, access to employment and skills, and access to services for these groups. In 2016 EBRD donors committed €1.9 million in funding for economic inclusion and €2.8 million for gender-specific technical cooperation activities.

As an example of a gender-related project, Japan contributed €300,000 to support the promotion of equal opportunities at Tbilisi’s bus company to improve its human resource practices and policies.

The aim is to create better access to employment and related training opportunities for female candidates and staff, improve internal progression and raise the number of women employed at all positions, particularly among drivers who are currently the most underrepresented in the company.

It is the first such project in Georgia and expected to have a demonstration effect throughout the region.

This activity is an example of work conducted under the €7 million Gender Advisory Services Programme, to which the Southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) Multi-Donor Account, SEMED Cooperation Funds Account, TaiwanBusiness-EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund, Japan and EBRD Shareholder Special Fund (SSF) have contributed to date.

“I have been the only female bus driver in Tbilisi for more than three decades in this company, but this is hopefully going to change now,” says Margalita Naroushvili.

“It is very good to see how pre-conceptions about this job as a typical male domain are changing. I get a lot of positive feedback from passengers on how happy they are to see a female driver. I love driving and I cannot imagine my life without it.”

The EBRD invested €27 million to help the City acquire 143 new environmentally friendly buses, which run on compressed natural gas. The loan is supported by a €7 million grant by the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership (E5P).*

EBRD donors also contribute to creating enabling environments to promote gender equality in its regions. The TaiwanBusiness-EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund provided €725,000 to support studies on the following topics: how to enhance business performance and economic growth by addressing issues related to the care economy, opportunities to engage men as agents of positive change to make transition more resilient and inclusive, global best practices in equal opportunities and value chains in agribusinesses in Central Asia.

Furthermore, the EBRD’s Women in Business programme expanded in 2016 and is currently active in 16 countries to provide women entrepreneurs with access to finance and know-how they need to successfully grow their businesses.

The programme now works with 25 partner financial institutions and is supported by over €62 million in donor funding from the EU, Italy, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Sweden, Turkey, the TaiwanBusiness-EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund and the Early Transition Countries Fund**.

Inclusion and gender projects comprehensively address the challenges in the EBRD region by including policy reform activities. In Turkey, for example, the Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Turkish government on developing skills standards, expanding vocational test centres to less advantaged regions and improving apprenticeship models. in partnership with the private sector.

Economic Inclusion Strategy

The EBRD is launching its first Economic Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021at the 2017 EBRD Annual Meeting & Business Forum in Nicosia, Cyprus. It is also holding a Facebook Live discussion about inclusion immediately after the launch.

The strategy stresses the critical role of the private sector in addressing inclusion challenges in partnership with policy stakeholders to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth.

New donors are joining this meaningful journey, including the TaiwanBusiness-EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund which committed to support youth inclusion in Croatia and Syrian refugees in Jordan

The launch of the strategy underscores the EBRD’s commitment to inclusion as a key strategic priority and coincides with an increasing global focus on addressing the challenges of inequality.

In this context, the EBRD is stepping up its drive to make sure fewer parts of society fall by the wayside of economic progress in the countries where it invests.

*The Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership (E5P) is a multi-donor fund managed by the EBRD. Donors include the European Union (the largest contributor), Armenia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Sweden, Ukraine and the United States.

** The EBRD Early Transition Countries Fund is supported by Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taipei China and the United Kingdom.

*** The contributors to the SEMED Multi-Donor Account include Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taipei China and the United Kingdom.

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