- Her Excellency Reem bint Ebrahim Al Hashimi: UAE was the first Arab country to close the gender gap in the labor force
- Dr Jim Yong Kim: We need to close a US$300 billion funding gap to support women entrepreneurs
Dubai-UAE: 13 February, 2018 – A special Global Policy Platform panel discussion on the emergence of female entrepreneurs worldwide highlighted ways to support and empower women to become entrepreneurs and contribute to the economy on day two of the sixth World Government Summit in Dubai today.
Conducted by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in collaboration with the World Bank and its sister organization, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the ‘Women Entrepreneurs Rising Worldwide' session introduced a new financing initiative launched by the World Bank Group. The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) aims to raise more than US$1 billion in financing to improve access to capital, provide technical assistance, and invest in projects and programs that support women and women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) globally.
Her Excellency Reem bint Ebrahim Al Hashimi, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, led the panel that also included Dr Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, and Fadi Ghandour, Executive Chairman of Wamda Capital and founder of Aramex.
Speaking on the importance of supporting women entrepreneurs, she said: “The achievements of Emirati women can serve as an inspiration for women in many developing countries.” Her Excellency went on to point out how the UAE was the first Arab country to close the gender gap in the labor force and thus, Emirati women today have equal opportunities to receive a quality tertiary education, and became valuable assets in the labor force.
Her Excellency added “This event at the World Government Summit showcases how supporting women entrepreneurs makes economies stronger and more resilient. The World Government Summit also serves as a platform to highlight the success stories of successful women entrepreneurs from around the world.”
“We know for a fact that enabling women to work, and to own and run their own enterprises, isn't just good for business, it's necessary for economic growth,' World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. He added, 'We're very pleased that the U.A.E. and 13 other countries are supporting We-Fi, which will help women around the world overcome barriers to starting and running successful businesses.'
Focusing on the need for access to capital, Dr Jim Yong Kim said: “Only 30 percent of SMEs around the world are owned and run by women. Seventy percent of women-owned SMEs in developing countries are either shut out of financial institutions or can't get the capital they need. This results in a nearly US$300 billion annual credit deficit for women-owned SMEs. It is nearly impossible to sustain a business without access to capital.”
Highlighting the need for seed funding for entrepreneurs, both male and female, Fadi Ghandour added: “Access to seed capital is incredibly important and very difficult to obtain. We need to foster a healthy discussion about how to support entrepreneurs at this early and high-risk stage. Most importantly, financial support has to be accompanied by mentorship and advice from seasoned advisors to enable young businesses to become truly successful.”
In the final part of the session, female entrepreneurs from the MENA region recounted their challenges and success stories on their entrepreneurship journey.
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the World Government Summit 2018 runs from February 11 to 13 at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. The landmark event convenes more than 4,000 participants from 140 countries, including heads of state and governments, as well as top-tier representatives of 16 international organizations.
Hosting more than 130 speakers across 120 interactive sessions, WGS 2018 features six distinct forums that examine the challenges of vital sectors for the future with a view to finding the best resolutions for the greater global good. Furthermore, over 20 specialized global reports spanning key sectors and topics of the summit are being launched during the event.