EBRD partners with Bank of Palestine to support Women in Business in the West Bank and Gaza

By Nibal Zgheib

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  • EBRD teams up with Bank of Palestine to support women entrepreneurs in the West Bank and Gaza
  • Increased lending for women-led businesses and promotion of gender inclusion
  • Funded by the Netherlands through the EBRD Multi-donor Trust Fund

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is partnering with Bank of Palestine to empower Palestinian women entrepreneurs under the Women in Business programme, to help grow their businesses at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is severely impacting the economy.

The programme will facilitate access to finance for women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and increase their participation in the local market. It will also provide business advice to help them grow their companies. The programme in the West Bank and Gaza is partially funded by the Netherlands through the EBRD Multi donor Trust Fund.

As a first joint initiative under the programme, the EBRD is providing a US$ 15 million financing package to support local SMEs, including US$ 2 million dedicated to financing women entrepreneurs.

Small businesses account for more than 95 per cent of private-sector enterprises in the West Bank and Gaza, but only a quarter of those businesses are owned by women.

EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso said at a virtual launch event today: “Supporting the role of women in the economy is crucial for sustainable and inclusive development. The EBRD is very pleased to roll out its flagship the Women in Business Programme with Bank of Palestine to create conditions that allow women to fulfil their potential.”

Hashim Shawa, Chairman of Bank of Palestine Group, said: “Women constitute 50 per cent of the population in Palestine, yet they are underrepresented in the labour force and economic cycle. As a bank we are committed to turning around this reality through Women in Business programmes with the EBRD and the Netherlands, naturally building upon our flagship women’s financial inclusion programmes at the bank.”

The programme will also help address the low 21 per cent labour participation rate of women in the West Bank and Gaza. The EBRD aims to bridge this gender gap and help address the low representation of women entrepreneurs with tailored capacity-building for Bank of Palestine. In addition to financing, programme beneficiaries will also receive training, mentoring and advice to successfully manage and expand their businesses. The Women in Business programme is currently active in 24 economies, with total EBRD financing of €526.6 million.

The Women in Business project with Bank of Palestine will complement the bank’s already considerable efforts with regard to gender-responsive banking under its longstanding Felestineya program.

Since the start of its operations in the West Bank and Gaza in 2017, the EBRD has signed 13 projects for a total amount of US$ 51 million.

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