Enhancing the business enabling environment for women in Arab economies


24 November 2010 - General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture for Arab Countries, Beirut, Lebanon


Co-organised by the Union of Arab Banks and the OECD, this conference provided an opportunity to exchange good practices in improving the operational environment for women’s enterprise development in the Middle East and North Africa. The nearly 100 participants came from 13 MENA and OECD economies and included government, business and civil society leaders.




From left to right: Union of Arab Banks Secretary General Wissam Fattouh, Director of the Groupement Professionel des Banques du Maroc El Hadi Chaibainou, Lebanese Minister of Finance H.E. Raya Haffar El-Hassan, Lebanese Minister of State H.E. Adnan Al Kassar, Palestinian Minister of Justice H.E. Ali Khashan, Moroccan Minister for Economic and General Affairs H.E. Nizar Baraka and U.S. Ambassador to the OECD H.E. Karen Kornbluh.

The identification of innovative mechanisms for improving financing options for women-led enterprises was the first theme of the conference. Representatives of banks, credit guarantee companies, and international organisations shared their experience in improving the provision of financial products and services to women entrepreneurs. In a second session, representatives of chambers of commerce, businesswomen’s associations and business incubators discussed their role in ensuring that women have access to, and are adequately informed about, business development services. Moving forward, the MENA-OECD Investment Programme would welcome the contribution of good practice examples for improving women’s access to finance and to business development services, which would later be shared with WBF members.


The conference culminated with the presentation of the preliminary results of the OECD’s country-level "Inventory of Policies, Institutions and Programmes Supporting Women’s Enterprise in the Middle East and North Africa". The purpose of the inventory is to showcase effective approaches to support private enterprise development in the MENA region, and to identify good practices for improving the operational conditions specifically for women-led enterprises. Participants confirmed the decision to expand the inventory from 7 to all 18 Middle East and North African economies, based on the proposed methodology.


The inventory was initiated by the OECD, with the support of the Centre of Arab Women for Training and Research (CAWTAR) and other partner organisations including the Union of Arab Banks. Country-level task forces are currently being constituted to ensure that the inventory is accurate, updated, and effective. Task force members will also contribute to the strategic directions of the OECD-MENA Women’s Business Forum and represent the WBF in their respective countries.


To join the Women’s Business Forum and contribute to its activities, please send an email to: mena.investment@oecd.org. WBF members have access to a secure online platform, which includes conference documentation, at the following address: https://community.oecd.org/community/psdwbn.


Conference documents

Agenda (ArabicEnglishFrench)

News release, 23 November 2010 (English)

Conclusions (Arabic, EnglishFrench


Remarks by H.E. Ms. Raya Haffar El-Hassan, Minister of Finance, Lebanon (Arabic)

Remarks by H.E. Karen Kornbluh, U.S. Ambassador to the OECD and Co-chair of the Women's Business Forum

Improving Women's Access to Enterprise Support, Lois Stevenson, LASMA Consulting, Canada

See also

Overview of the OECD-MENA Women's Business Forum


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