Press Releases

IFC and Center of Arab Women for Training and Research Launch Project on Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa

In Cairo
Carmen Niethammer
GEM Program Manager
Telephone: 0020 (2) 461 9140/45/50

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 increase.”  

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 ( 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.