By Rafiq Vayani
DUBAI: Dubai Exports, the export promotion agency of Dubai Economy, together with the International Trade Centre (ITC), has launched the first of its kind ‘SheTrades Middle East Hub’ to connect women entrepreneurs to markets and support greater economic empowerment of women.
His Excellency Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of the Department of Economic Development (DED), and Ms. Arancha González, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, launched the Hub alongside the regional meeting of the Arab Countries Trade and Investment Organisations Network (ACTION), hosted by Dubai Exports in partnership with ITC and the support of the Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab States (AfTIAS).
Part of a global SheTrades initiative spearheaded by ITC with the goal of connecting one million women to international markets by 2020, the SheTrades Middle East Hub seeks to rally support from policymakers, business community and women’s organisations to leverage trade as a channel for the economic empowerment of women.
Research shows that working women would raise household income by up to 25 per cent in Arab countries and in the UAE, an equal number of women and men working would raise the country’s GDP by 12 per cent. Female entrepreneurs tend to be more innovative, largely due to their ability to perceive opportunities in a different manner, HE Sami Al Qamzi commented, reflecting on the outcomes of the entrepreneurial support initiatives of DED.
“Female entrepreneurs now hold 58.5% of the e-Trader licences, which DED launched to enable Emiratis and GCC citizens living in Dubai to conduct business on social networking sites. Providing opportunities to female entrepreneurs is not only the right thing to do but also economically sensible if a country is to grow and prosper,” Al Qamzi said.
“We know that women entrepreneurs have some unique obstacles or challenges but we would like to turn them into opportunities. It is vital that women build networks that allow their businesses to become global,” added Al Qamzi.
‘ITC is pleased to launch the first SheTrades hub and to have it in the UAE in partnership with Dubai Exports. This collaboration will enable us to connect more women entrepreneurs from across the MENA region to the global market,’ said ITC Executive Director Arancha González. ‘The SheTrades MENA hub will provide women with opportunities to scale up their businesses through increased trade and market intelligence, targeted assistance and connections with each other. This will help improve the business ecosystem of countries across the region.’
Dubai Export will host the SheTrades Middle East Hub to co-ordinate efforts towards enabling women entrepreneurs in the region to contribute towards sustainable development, resilience and inclusive growth. The launch event also saw delegates representing various stakeholder groups discussing policy considerations and ways in which organisations can adopt practical interventions in support of the SheTrades Middle East Hub.
One of the first activities to be carried out by the SheTrades MENA hub will be the mapping of the priorities of 3,000 women entrepreneurs across the region to gain a greater understanding of market gaps and barriers preventing them from fully participating in trade. This exercise will also help identify priority sectors that will be the focus of the capacity building and the entrepreneurial skills upgrading. In addition, the Hub will generate targeted activities to engage with business owners in the MENA region, including a variety of e-learning courses and workshops.
Globally, SheTrades commits to seven actions that influence collaborative interventions with the help of both public and private sector partners. The seven focus areas are: Champion quality data, Enact fair policies, Secure government contracts, Strike business deals, Enable market access, Unlock financial services, and Grant ownership rights. The programme is also supported by a web and mobile digital platform, www.shetrades.com.