Dubai: Female entrepreneurs in the Mena region need 150 years of support, both financial and legislative, to meet the current standard of the businesswomen in the developed country, said Dr. Reem Al Baghdadi, a board member at the Jordan Forum for Business & Professional Women.
Speaking on the second day of the Forum of Arab and African Businesswomen, she said: “The status of women entrepreneurs in the Mena region is very weak and they need a lot of support on the financial and legislative levels.”
She added that the economies in their home countries cannot achieve the required development without the involvement of these women.
She said the governments need to support women-owned businesses, especially in terms of financial products and services.
“To support entrepreneurship as well as to enhance the role of these businesswomen in the market by enacting certain legislation that directly affect and ease their access to the market,” she said.
Serving this market not only makes business sense, but the promotion of women’s entrepreneurship also has a positive impact on society as a whole by fostering economic growth and job creation, Dr.Reem said.
“If the region is to realise its potential, then we must do more to support women business owners in their desire to grow their businesses”.
Increasing financial support and upgrading legislation to serve the interests of businesswomen in Mena will be among top recommendations of the forum, said Shaikha Hessa Al Sabah, Chairwoman of the Arab Businesswomen’s Council.
Speaking to Gulf News, she said: “The growth and success of women-owned businesses is one of the most profound changes in the business world today.
According to her, women are an emerging market force. However, many businesswomen are not accessing commercial credit, an essential driver of business success. Lack of access to finance and financial services have been repeatedly identified as the major constraint for women business owners.”
“Government should work harder to raise awareness about the opportunity and viability of banking for women. For example, in Egypt there are financial institutions that finance women-owned businesses only.”
In Iraq as well , one of the financial firms, Bright Future, is providing 25 per cent of its loans to the businesswomen, she said.
“What is required today and immediately to escalate women entrepreneurship is to expand access to finance by providing a host of new products and services tailored for women-owned SMEs,” Shaikha Hessa said.
The two-day forum ended with releasing the Dubai Declaration which called to set up Arab-African Businesswomen’s Association aiming to strengthen the mechanism for better collaboration between businesswomen in the two regions.
The new association will encourage cooperation between Arab and African countries, and investments by Arab businesswomen in Africa.