During its third year of operation (2016), EBESM launched the Women Entrepreneurship activity in a MSME context. This activity aims at enhancing policies to support women’s entrepreneurship development in the MED Region (or at enhancing the policy framework for women entrepreneurship development), and at giving a stronger role to women in the social and economic development of the region. This is expected to generate an increased number of women starting businesses, thus contributing to reducing unemployment and poverty.

In particular, this activity aims at identifying main obstacles and challenges faced by women entrepreneurs to initiate or develop their business, and also to identify success stories that could be used as models for good practices. It will collect, through surveys in each MED country, empirical evidence on the impact of existing policies on women setting up businesses to help improve existing policies.

This, in turn, will help local authorities represented by the SBA Coordinators and the members of the Working Group on “Women Entrepreneurships” to enhance the policy framework for women entrepreneurship. It will help as well grassroots women and/or entrepreneur’s associations become vocal in advocating specific public policies for supporting women’s entrepreneurship in the MED region.

As in the European Union (EU), Micro, Small and Medium-size Enterprises (MSME) in this region are the backbone of the economies and the biggest employers. Hence, supporting MSME started and developed by women is expected to contribute to job creation and inclusive growth.

Unemployment is particularly high among youth and women, and it is one of the most pressing problems of the MED region. The attention of EBESM therefore, was focussed on the economic potential of women’s integration into the economic life.

While initiatives to support women entrepreneurs are many, policy measures in most MED countries are still weak, and cultural obstacles to women setting up their business remain a challenge. More efforts are therefore required to improve the policy framework with respect to women entrepreneurship development, by building on the work that has been carried out by international donors or institutions, in particular the EU, OECD, WB, UN, etc. as well as on good practice examples.

As for the Access to Finance activity, a working group specialised in this domain, was established and will work in close coordination and supervision of the SBA coordinators. The “Women Entrepreneurship” working group is composed of women president or influential member of women or entrepreneurs or employers’ grassroots and efficient association in each MED country.

This activity builds on and will complement the work that has been carried out by the UfM/UNIDO, OECD, UN Women, the Arab League, etc.

To reach objectives, this activity will be deployed in several stages, including:

  1. Conducting a national survey in seven countries to collect empirical evidence on the impact of existing policies on women entrepreneurship. The survey (person-to-person interviews based on a detailed questionnaire) will identify non university graduated women entrepreneurs and examine in detail factors affecting their successes, failures and development.
  2. Identifying MED and EU good practices in the area of Women Entrepreneurship as well as in Israel for benchmarking purposes, and could be used as good examples for policy making in the MED region.
  3. Drafting a consolidated regional policy report with a detailed analysis supported by data collected from the eight-country surveys and the examples of EU good practices selected. The aim of the Report is to issue evidence-based policy recommendations for local authorities. In addition, this Report will be very useful to women associations as a negotiation and policy tool to ensure that their views are objectively voiced and to advocate for specific policy implementation.
  4. Conducting focus group meetings at sub-regional level to fine-tune policy recommendations.
  5. Conducting seminars at sub-regional and regional levels:  based on the results of the Report, these  seminar will discuss policy options and instruments in order to enhance the policy framework for women entrepreneurship development during which country-specific actionable recommendations will be formulated. The Report will be distributed and discussed at the country level.
  6. Technical assistance will be provided by EBESM in order to structure a Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) mechanism, including a road map and action plans to enhance policies favourable to women entrepreneurs. For more information on the Women Entrepreneurship concept note.

For more information you can download here the concept note on Women Entrepre (EN, FR)