IFC’s Partnership With CAWTAR Strengthens Research on Women’s Entrepreneurship in the MENA Region

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Tunis-based Center of Arab Women for Training and Research to promote research on women’s entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa.

This project will help meet demand from development institutions and women’s organizations for more research on the importance of women’s entrepreneurship for private sector development. It will equip existing research centers in the region with up-to-date research tools and networks.

“The expertise and experience we provide will enable women’s studies centers and other research institutions in the region to demonstrate how women-owned enterprises contribute to economic growth. This will reinforce the overall gender agenda in the region,” said Dr. Soukeina Bouraoui, Director of CAWTAR.

The regional initiative will focus on practical implications and policy recommendations aimed at improving women’s access to business services, networks, and finance. Components include:

– Technical assistance and training, which CAWTAR and affiliated institutions will receive from IFC. They will use IFC’s assessment methodology and toolkit to conduct research on market-related gender imbalances and to identify opportunities for technical assistance and policy interventions.

– Benchmarking for conducting best-practice research related to women’s entrepreneurship.

– Creation of a research network and platform for dialogue with policymakers, financial institutions, training providers, and the media.

– Formulation of policy recommendations to help increase women’s participation in private sector development.

The research project will be implemented by the Gender Entrepreneurship Markets program of IFC’s Private Enterprise Partnership for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Our cooperation with CAWTAR comes at an opportune moment. In setting up the program we conducted a number of country assessments on women’s entrepreneurship. This knowledge has been developed into a manual, which will be used with various development partners to support women entrepreneurs where they most need assistance” said Mary Porter Peschka, senior operations manager at PEP-MENA.

PEP-MENA is IFC’s technical assistance facility that supports private sector development in the Middle East and North Africa. It 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 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.

Source: IFC (Washington, DC) PRESS RELEASE (link opens in a new window)