Issues facing women entrepreneurs across the MENA region were discussed today at the We-Finance Challenge workshop, co-sponsored by Women 20 (W20), held at the WE-Fi MENA Regional Summit in Dubai. The two secretariats joined forces to look at the barriers on access to finance; and the legal framework and regulations that hinder women’s entrepreneurship. Specifically, they focused on the need for better gender- disaggregated data on access to finance by financial institutions and investors.
W20 Sherpa Salma Al-Rashid explained: “The We Finance Challenge has a practical purpose: to encourage the private sector to track its lending to women-led SMEs. We know that systematically collecting data helps inform both internal business and national government policies, and should then lead to increased lending. With members across the G20 countries, W20 aims to help women entrepreneurs in this important year for women.”
Wendy Teleki, Head of the We-Fi Secretariat, commented: “The goal of the We-Fi Summit, including today’s workshop, is to spur action to support women’s entrepreneurs and convene partners to make this happen. W20 is a key stakeholder to help us move that agenda through their work with the G20.” The We-Fi MENA Regional Summit is held 16-17 February on the sidelines of the Global Women’s Forum Dubai.
W20 has four focus areas in the Saudi Presidency G20 year: labor inclusion, financial inclusion, digital inclusion, and inclusive decision making. Underpinning these is the need for greater accountability in both the private and government sectors. The 2020 W20 is also promoting the cross-cutting theme of women entrepreneurship. To augment this, W20 decided to co-sponsor the We- Finance Challenge, a session where key organizations convene to discuss a joint plan of action to accelerate the number of financial institutions that are tracking their financing to women entrepreneurs.
Commenting after the sessions, W20 Sherpa Salma Al-Rashid said: “The meetings today helped us as advocates of women’s empowerment – and within that the ambitious sector of society that are women entrepreneurs – to understand what steps need to be taken by financial institutions, regulators and investors to accelerate lending. The W20 is determined to build on these constructive discussions and use its platform and access to G20 to push this agenda.”