Sana’a, April 8, 2006— The International
Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, conducted
a seminar in Sana’a, Yemen, to discuss the gender-related findings and
recommendations of the Yemen Investment Climate Assessment with key experts
and stakeholders. The event was organized jointly with the World
Bank and sponsored by the Gender Entrepreneurship Markets (GEM) program
of IFC’s technical assistance facility, the Private Enterprise Partnership
for the Middle East and North Africa (PEP-MENA).
The objective was to present the preliminary
findings and conclusions of the report while promoting discussion and receiving
feedback from Yemeni businesswomen, representatives from the Chamber of
Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, donors, and
other stakeholders with an interest in gender issues.
The World Bank Group’s Investment Climate
Assessments identify and prioritize investment climate constraints, benchmark
progress on reform, provide cross-country comparisons of investment climate
indicators, and help countries forge broad consensus on priority areas
for reform. These assessments feed into World Bank and IFC operations and
Andrew H. W. Stone, senior private sector
development specialist in the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa
Region, presented the preliminary findings, which focused on whether changes
in Yemen’s business enabling environment would have positive effects on
women’s entrepreneurial activities. Mr. Stone noted, “According
to the presentation and participants' contributions, key investment climate
factors put Yemeni women at a disadvantage as they undertake business activities.
These include educational attainment, access to finance and services,
weaknesses in the legal and regulatory system, cultural attitudes and lack
John Speakman, lead private sector development
specialist at the World Bank, who led the gender work on the Yemen Investment
Climate Assessment, pointed out that "Yemeni women have more difficulties
than men in accessing collateral and establishing personal contacts in
banks.” He added that education is a key factor, “as 70 percent
of the businesswomen who were surveyed have only completed high school."
Recommendations included integrating gender issues in policy and
regulatory processes, as well as increasing business management skills
training for women.
The Gender Entrepreneurship Markets
program gives technical assistance to women-owned small and medium enterprises
by addressing gender-based economic barriers and by developing the capacity
of women entrepreneurs, with the objective of contributing to economic
growth and job creation. Based on the results of a recent assessment
and stakeholder consultation, the GEM program in Yemen has had a positive
effect on the number of women-owned enterprises by improving access to
finance and relevant business services.
PEP-MENA is IFC’s technical assistance
facility that supports private sector development in the Middle East and
North Africa. PEP-MENA focuses on improving the business enabling and regulatory
environment; strengthening the financial sector; promoting the growth of
small and medium enterprises and their support services, such as business
organizations and consulting firms; helping restructure and privatize state-owned
enterprises; and developing viable private sector and public-private partnership
projects, especially in infrastructure.
The International Finance Corporation
is the private sector arm of the World Bank Group and is headquartered
in Washington, D.C. IFC coordinates its activities with the other
institutions of the World Bank Group but is legally and financially independent.
Its 178 member countries provide its share capital and collectively
determine its policies.
The mission of IFC is to promote sustainable
private sector investment in developing and transition countries, helping
to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector
investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international
financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability,
and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.
From its founding in 1956 through FY05, IFC has committed more than $49
billion of its own funds and arranged $24 billion in syndications for 3,319
companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio
as of FY05 was $19.3 billion for its own account and $5.3 billion held
for participants in loan syndications. For more information, visit