Women in Business 2014

Women in Business 2014

Accelerating Entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa Region You do not have access to this content

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20 Oct 2014
9789264213944 (PDF) ;9789264213845(print)

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Women in Business 2014 summarises the progress made by the OECD-MENA Women Business Forum (WBF) since the publication of its first Women in Business report in 2012. In 2012, five groups of actions had been identified as priorities to be carried out by governments, international stakeholders, financial and business support organisations, as well as statistical agencies. In two years, the WBF has developed inputs for three of these areas of priority actions. The WBF’s contributions are growing along with its increased recognition as a hub which spurs concrete improvements in the business climate for women entrepreneurs in the MENA region.

Today, women’s entrepreneurship is all the more important as governments in the region are facing the colossal challenge of rebooting job creation to improve the well-being of a growing workforce and confidence in the economy. The economic prospects of MENA economies that are going through a political transition have improved but unemployment has increased, inflation is rising and public finances have deteriorated. In these countries, political uncertainties add to long term structural difficulties. In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the challenges still lie in the diversification of their economies.


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  • Foreword and Acknowledgements

    Women are a driving force for development, economic growth and wellbeing. Yet, despite their dynamism, women still have unequal access to schools, jobs and leadership positions. In May 2013, OECD Ministers endorsed a Recommendation on Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship with the aim of improving societal equity and promoting sustainable growth by enabling societies to better leverage all of their existing talents.

  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Executive summary

    MENA economies have the lowest proportion of women in employment in the world and a similarly low level of women entrepreneurs. Harnessing the potential of women could foster the development of the private sector and stimulate productivity, innovation and economic growth. Research estimates that closing the gender gap in the labour market could increase gross domestic product (GDP) by more than 25% per capita in MENA economies.

  • Key recommendations

    Greater participation by women in the labour force, particularly as entrepreneurs, could help develop the private sector and stimulate innovation and growth in the MENA region. One recent study suggests that closing the gender gap in the labour market could increase GDP by more than 25% per head in MENA economies.

  • Reader's guide

    This specific section on methodology aims at summarising the processes by which data and information have been gathered for the different chapters.

  • Gender inequality and entrepreneurship: A statistical portrait of the MENA region

    This chapter presents a descriptive overview of women’s economic activity in the MENA region based on available statistical sources.

    It analyses in what respects women’s engagement in the economy in MENA lags behind the rest of the world, in spite of significant advances in women’s education. The chapter also reviews how, considering the limited employment opportunities, entrepreneurship may be an attractive opportunity for women and to what extent it differs from entrepreneurship among men.

    Overall, as indicated in Women in Business: Policies to support women's entrepreneurship development in the MENA region (OECD, 2012), greater efforts are needed at the national and regional levels to collect and compile gender-disaggregated data related to women’s economic activity to support evidence-based policy making and better harness the potential of women in MENA economies.

  • Business development service provision and incubation for women entrepreneurs in the MENA region

    This chapter assesses business development support (BDS) services targeting women entrepreneurs across 17 MENA economies. It takes stock of business development support and incubation services currently offered by government and nongovernmental organisations to women entrepreneurs in the MENA region. It identifies good practices and gaps in service provision in the region and develops policy recommendations to guide governments and other stakeholders in developing these services further.

  • Expanding the financing options of women-led businesses in the MENA region

    This chapter addresses issues related to the supply and demand sides of financing for women-led businesses in the MENA region. The first section presents a supply-side analysis of banks' financing practices, based on the results of a survey of banks carried out by the OECD in collaboration with the Union of Arab Banks. The section reviews whether banks consider women's businesses as a market for their own development, the amounts and types of loans they provide to those businesses and the ways and means to enhance the proportion of bank lending to women's businesses. The second section consists of a practical guide to improving the demand side of lending to women-led businesses, by providing concrete advice to women on how to approach banks for financing their businesses, within the context of the larger financing needs of their businesses.

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