Women economic participation is a key for poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth. Egypt has made great strides along a number of important human development indicators, but economic growth has been moderate. Average per capita income growth has been around 2% per year since 1980, resulting in an increase in unemployment and poverty rates. Women remain disproportionately affected by poverty and are mainly in insecure, low-wage jobs or in fields with no career progressions. Worth noting that women’s unemployment is 2.5 times higher than that of men (CAPMAS, 2014)1, despite their enormous contributions to economies, whether in businesses, on farms, as entrepreneurs or employees, or by doing unpaid care work.
Therefore, UN Women Egypt aims at increasing economic empowerment of women, especially of those who are most excluded whereby marginalized women have improved access to economic opportunities through the support to self-employment and micro and small enterprise start-ups. This is also coupled with the aim that local partners have increased capacity to effectively implement services for poverty alleviation for women and girls.
Through the EU-funded Regional Programme: Spring Forward for Women, UN Women Egypt partnered with the Alexandria Business Association (ABA) - one of the largest microfinance institution in Egypt with a wide client base of micro entrepreneurs – to foster women’s entrepreneurship. The objectives of the partnership are to:
- Institutionalize policies and programmes that are gender responsive;
- Create gender focal points at ABA and the like organizations with the aim to develop an openplatform for microfinance business organizations to promote financial inclusion and tailored credit programs coupled with business development services for women entrepreneurs; and
- Contribute to developing an enabling business environment for women entrepreneurs in seven governorates in Lower Egypt.
After strengthening ABA’s staff capacity on gender-responsive lending policies and programmes, UN Women and ABA enhance the skillset of 400 women in financial literacy, communication and negotiation skills, management and business administration. So far, 120 women entrepreneurs have established their own business, and 280 women have improved and expanded their existing enterprises, creating additional income-generating opportunities for mostly women.