Mashrou3i Celebrates International Women’s Day
On March 8th, Mashrou3i celebrated International Women’s Day and the achievement of female entrepreneurs in Tunisia, underlining the project’s commitment to ensure gender equality.
To promote women’s economic empowerment a webinar on “Female Entrepreneurship: Access to finance options”, was organized by Mashrou3i in partnership with The Next Women Tunisia – a professional network of women entrepreneurs that was established in Tunisia in 2016.
At the opening of this virtual event for women entrepreneurs in Tunisia, Mr. Peter Riley, Director of the USAID Mission in Tunisia emphasized: “In recent years, we have witnessed remarkable progress in women’s rights. Despite this, women’s voices are regularly ignored. In Tunisia, through the Mashrou3i project (and other USAID-funded projects), we are working to create a better and more productive environment for women entrepreneurs to access finance and excel in their ventures.”
Mr. Antoine Bureau, Coordinator of the Mashrou3i project at UNIDO, highlighted progress towards women’s economic empowerment in Tunisia and reinforced the need to support women-owned businesses: “Among the Mashrou3i beneficiaries supported in 2020 to successfully launch their business we are proud to say that 48% of them are led by women. However, sadly women-owned businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and we must continue working together to ensure women-owned businesses can thrive.”
Access to finance is one of the major obstacles in the creation or development of a business, and is a particular challenge for women entrepreneurs in Tunisia. The webinar brought together representatives from key organizations and financial institutions to discuss microfinance, honorary loans and more innovative financing solutions such as crowdfunding and Tunisia’s first female network of Business Angels.
Women entrepreneurs were able to learn more about financing options available to them from experts including Caroline Brummelhuis (Director of The Next Women Tunisia9, Ms. Douja Gharbi (President of DAMYA Female Business Angel Network), Ms. Islem Lahami (Marketing and Communications Manager of Advans Tunisia), Mr. Samir Dinari and Mr. Matthieu Vanel (Director and Project Manager of Initiative Tunisia respectively), Ms. Asma Oueslati (co-founder of the crowdfunding platform cha9a9a.tn).
Ms. Douja Gharbi, President of DAMYA, Tunisia first women’s business angel network, stressed the need to raise awareness of these new financing alternatives that combine networking and support for entrepreneurs in addition to participation in their capital, still largely unknown to the general public.
Fifteen women entrepreneurs invited by the Mashrou3i project and The Next Women Tunisia attended the webinar, which was also broadcast live on social media. At the end of the webinar, the speakers were able to interact with the women entrepreneurs during a special networking session in a virtual space.
Mashrou3i is a public-private partnership between the Tunisian government, USAID (United States Agency for International Development), the Italian Cooperation, the HP Foundation and UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization). Since 2016, the project has contributed to the creation of more than 4,500 full-time jobs in the interior regions of the country through its entrepreneurial training, business coaching and capacity building activities. Gender equality is reflected in the project’s results, and the project is proud to highlight that of the 1,369 jobs created in 2020, 63% are held by women.
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