Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) have launched a joint-initiative, She Wins Arabia, to help women-led startups across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) access the advice, finance, and mentorship they need to grow.
She Wins Arabia will provide capacity building and training to incubators, accelerators, and venture capital funds so that they can better assist women-led startups and businesses. Such firms will also get the opportunity to pitch their business concepts to a panel of judges in order to obtain funding and guidance from key ecosystem leaders and possible investors.
The initiative is expected to act as a significant platform in supporting women entrepreneurs in a region where only 6 percent of private equity and venture capital funding goes to woman-led businesses. Furthermore, many incubators and venture capital funds still do not cater their workspaces, goods, or services to women entrepreneurs.
“At ADGM, we are committed to supporting gender equality and advancing the participation of women in the startup landscape. We see this initiative as an excellent opportunity for us to drive ADGM’s gender agenda further and play an active role in creating opportunities for women across the region to participate actively in the economic development of their countries and the creation of a more diverse and inclusive society.”
She Wins Arabia, supported by the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (WeFi) and the government of the Netherlands, will be implemented in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, the UAE, the West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen.
“MENA is brimming with talented women entrepreneurs whose ideas could help reshape the economies of the region. Leveling the playing field, and making the start-up space more inclusive, is crucial for ensuring its growth and spurring economic development,” said Mr. Makhtar Diop, IFC’s Managing Director.
The initiative is part of IFC’s commitment to closing economic divide between women and men in MENA and promoting gender equality. The region has one of the lowest female labor force participation rates in the world, at 20 percent, and women have half the legal rights of men.