Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED Programme)

OECD workshop in Istanbul to discuss ways to help women entrepreneurs in Middle East, North Africa


24/06/2005 - Local entrepreneurship is one of the keys to business development in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, and women have a particular role to play in getting the region to fulfil its economic potential and bring greater prosperity to its citizens.

To move this process forward, the OECD is organising a Workshop on Building Awareness of Women’s Entrepreneurship in the MENA Region in Istanbul on 11 and 12 July. The workshop will bring together 80 participants from the MENA region and from OECD and other countries to discuss ways to help women who want to launch their own enterprises. It will be open to the media.

Discussions will focus on practical issues such as how to design and develop projects, how to help individuals to improve their grasp of business practices, how to make finance available and how to make effective use of publicity and public relations. Women entrepreneurs will speak about difficulties they have met in opening and running a business, about institutional barriers such as lack of property rights enforcement and lack of funding and access to financial institutions, and about the challenges of accessing international export markets.

The workshop, organised by the OECD’s Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Local Development at the OECD’s Istanbul Centre for Private Sector Development, is part of a broader MENA-OECD Initiative on Investment and Governance for Development.

This initiative aims to promote the modernisation of government structures, the enhancement of investment conditions and the enactment of broad structural reforms in the MENA region with a view to fostering more economic growth and job creation.

Faced with high unemployment and weak growth rates, governments in the MENA region are increasingly aware of the need for economic diversification and a dynamic entrepreneurial economy, and women clearly have a role to play in this regard.  At present, nonetheless, conditions are often far from favourable for women entrepreneurs.

Many women hold back from launching a business because of social pressures and lack of education, and newspapers and other communications media are not always as supportive as they might be. Although many women’s business associations exist in the MENA region, they do not always take full advantage of their potential lobbying power.

By working together and forging international partnerships, however, women entrepreneurs can do more to make their voice heard. One of the objectives of the workshop will be to develop draft policy recommendations to serve as a basis for a presentation to a Ministerial Meeting of the MENA-OECD Investment Programme in Amman in November 2005.

To register to attend the workshop journalists are invited to contact the OECD’s Media Relations Division (tel. +33 1 4524 9700). For further information and comment, journalists are invited to contact Marie-Florence Estimé, Deputy Director of the OECD’s Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Local Development (tel.  +33 1 4524 9434).


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