IFC and World Bank present findings on Yemeni investment climate and gender [Archives:2006/936/Local News]

April 10 2006

SANA'A, April 9 ) The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank's private sector arm, conducted a seminar in Sana'a to discuss gender-related findings and recommendations of the Yemen Investment Climate Assessment with key experts and stakeholders.

The event was organized jointly with the World Bank and sponsored by the gender program of IFC technical assistance facility, the Private Enterprise Partnership for the Middle East and North Africa (PEP-MENA).

The objective was to present the assessment's preliminary findings and conclusions while promoting discussion and receiving feedback from Yemeni businesswomen, Chamber of Commerce and Industry representatives, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, donors and other stakeholders with an interest in gender issues.

The World Bank's assessment identifies and prioritizes investment climate constraints, benchmarks progress on reform, provides cross-country comparisons of investment climate indicators and helps countries forge broad consensus on priority areas for reform. The assessments feed into World Bank and IFC operations and technical assistance.

Andrew H. W. Stone, senior private sector development specialist for the World Bank's Middle East and North Africa region, presented the preliminary findings, which focused on whether changes in Yemen's business enabling environment will positively affect women's entrepreneurial activities.

“According to the presentation and participants' contributions, key investment climate factors put Yemeni women at a disadvantage in undertaking business activities. These include attaining education, accessing finances and services, weaknesses in the legal and regulatory system, cultural attitudes and lack of networks,” Stone noted.

John Speakman, the World Bank's lead private sector development specialist who led gender work on Yemen's assessment, pointed out, “Yemeni women have more difficulties than men in accessing collateral and establishing personal banking contacts.”

He added that education is a key factor, as “Seventy percent of businesswomen surveyed only completed high school.” Recommendations included integrating gender issues into policy and regulatory processes, as well as increasing business management skills training for women.

The Gender Entrepreneurship Markets (GEM) program provides technical assistance to women-owned small and medium enterprises by addressing gender-based economic barriers and developing the capacity of women entrepreneurs with the objective of contributing to economic growth and job creation.

Based on results from a recent assessment and stakeholder consultation, the GEM program in Yemen has positively affected the number of women-owned enterprises by improving access to finance and relevant business services.

PEP-MENA is IFC's technical assistance facility supporting private sector development in the Middle East and North Africa. PEP-MENA focuses on improving the business enabling and regulatory environment; strengthening the financial sector; promoting growth of small and medium enterprises and their support services like business organizations and consulting firms; helping restructure and privatize state-owned enterprises and developing viable private sector and public-private partnership projects, especially in infrastructure.