February 17th, 2020, Dubai (UAE): The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) hosted a ministerial roundtable as part of the first We-Fi MENA Regional Summit being held on the sidelines of the Global Women’s Forum Dubai 2020 (GWDF).
The roundtable, which highlighted key issues on the state of women’s economic empowerment in the MENA region, was aimed at creating a platform for leaders to share experiences and discuss opportunities to support women entrepreneurs, reinforce commitment and move to collective action.
Participants in the ministerial roundtable included Her Excellency Mona Ghanem Al Marri, Chairperson of the Board and Managing Director of Dubai Women Establishment (DWE), David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group, Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and Ivanka Trump, Advisor to the President of the United States of America. Ministers from several countries in the region including Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi and Morocco also convened at the roundtable.
Her Excellency Mona Ghanem Al Marri: “We are excited to see women play a vital role in diverse industries as we further advance our support so they succeed and excel in their personal and professional goals.”
HE Mona Ghanem Al Marri, said: “It is truly an honour to be a part of such an outstanding initiative that strives to provide women in the region with opportunities to succeed and excel in their personal and professional goals. We are excited to see women play a vital role in diverse industries as we further advance our support in all aspects of entrepreneurship.”
The discussion focused on two main topics – reforming laws, policies and regulations needed to support the economic empowerment of women, and accelerating access to finance for women-led businesses. The open dialogue allowed countries in the MENA region to share successes, discuss challenges and build more supportive enabling environments for women entrepreneurs and change makers to flourish and advance in their careers.
Earlier in the day, We-Fi also hosted a luncheon that underlined the importance of the initiative and its impact on women entrepreneurs in the UAE and MENA. The luncheon attendees were welcomed by Wendy Teleki, Head of the We-Fi Secretariat. Geoffrey Okamoto, Chair of We-Fi Steering Committee, and Thierno Diallo, Director-General of the Islamic Bank also spoke to the attendees.
The summit engaged with more than 250 attendees of entrepreneurs, MDB leadership, Private Sector Partners and guests from numerous international organizations to take action and make a difference in policy issues, e-commerce, accelerators and banking and policy reforms for women entrepreneurs.
Teleki added: “We hope to inspire and encourage women from not only MENA, but all over the world to continue to persist and persevere with their entrepreneurial aims and objectives as they have our support every step of the way.”
The We-Fi MENA Regional Summit is co-organised by Dubai Women Establishment and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, a ground-breaking international partnership launched in 2017 to unlock financing for women-led businesses in developing countries. We-Fi has allocated $249 million to programs that will benefit over 114,000 women-owned SMEs and mobilise $2.6 billion from the public and private sector. The initiative, which is housed in the World Bank and implemented by six multilateral development banks, is supported by 14 donors, including the UAE government, which was one of the first contributors.
About Global Women’s Forum Dubai 2020:
Global Women’s Forum Dubai (GWFD) 2020 is an international event being held on February 16-17, 2020 at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is organised by Dubai Women Establishment (DWE) and held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.
Building on its theme ‘The Power of Influence’, GWFD 2020 offers a global platform to discuss improved policies and foster partnerships that further women’s positive impact across four key areas: government, economy, society, and future. The event aims to engage over 3,000 attendees – including global leaders, public and private sector experts, as well as entrepreneurs, academics and students – through workshops and keynote sessions.
The Forum’s Knowledge Partner is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Alongside the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), DWE is also co-organising the We-Fi MENA Regional Summit – a side-line event that will host entrepreneurs from the region’s emerging economies.
In line with the UAE’s ongoing commitment to advance gender balance across all sectors, GWFD 2020 will drive female engagement and participation in the workforce, and is a testament to the country’s position as a global role model for the advancement of women.
About Dubai Women Establishment:
Dubai Women Establishment (DWE) was formed in 2006 as a statutory body of Dubai Government by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of Dubai. DWE is headed by Her Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council and wife of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
The Establishment’s mission is to advance the engagement and socio-economic participation of women across various sectors and fields. DWE’s strategic plan 2017-2021 focuses on providing recommendations to shape policies; fostering strategic partnerships; developing capacity-building programmes; as well as conducting in-depth research and facilitating the exchange of knowledge by organising global events and leading initiatives.
About the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi):
The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) is a groundbreaking partnership that aims to unlock financing for women-led/owned businesses (WSMEs) in developing countries. We-Fi’s partners include 14 governments, six multilateral development banks as implementing partners, and numerous other stakeholders in the public and private sector around the world. We-Fi takes an ecosystem approach to removing barriers to women’s economic empowerment, addressing constraints and opportunities related to finance, market access, capacity and the enabling environment.