Tunis, April 13, 2006— The International
Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, and
the Tunis-based Center of Arab Women for Training and Research today launched
a regional research project on women’s entrepreneurship in the Middle
East and North Africa. The project brings together businesswomen’s associations
and research centers from five countries in the region and is being implemented
by IFC’s Gender Entrepreneurship Markets program.
The project seeks to provide institutions
in Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates with
up-to-date research tools and conclusions that will enable businesswomen’s
associations and research centers to demonstrate the significance of women’s
entrepreneurship for private sector development and economic growth.
“This project will address a lack of
information about businesswomen in Lebanon, giving us the data we need
on the essential role women play in the economy,” noted Dr. Mona Khalaf,
Professor of Economics at the Lebanese-American University. The Lebanese
Businesswomen Association agrees that there is a need for more information
on the requirements of businesswomen in the country. “The project will
foster partnerships among various groups in the Middle East and North Africa
region” said Laila Karami, the Association’s President. “This regional
capacity-building approach brings together research and business experts,
and the number of businesswomen’s networks in the region will certainly
The regional initiative will focus on
practical implications and formulate policy recommendations aimed at improving
women’s access to business services, networks, and finance. A research
network among policymakers, financial institutions, training providers
and the media will be created. The project will use IFC’s Gender Entrepreneurship
Markets program’s assessment methodology and toolkit to identify the opportunities
for technical assistance, training, and policy interventions.
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 (www.ifc.org)
is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing 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.
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.