The Minister of Planning witnesses the closing ceremony of the Women in International Trade Project in Egypt

Dr. Hala Al-Saeed, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, witnessed the closing ceremony of the Women in International Trade Project in Egypt (SheTrades Egypt), in the presence of Eng. Hani Sonbol – CEO of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation and Acting CEO of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, and Elena Panova – Resident Coordinator of the United Nations United in Egypt, Lilia Nass – Head of the Middle East and North Africa Office of the International Trade Center, Neven Gamea – CEO of the Medium, Small and Micro Enterprise Development Agency, May Babiker – Director of the Regional Office of the Islamic Development Bank Group in Egypt.

At the beginning of her speech at the celebration, Dr. Hala Al-Saeed affirmed that the SheTrades Egypt project, which was launched in 2020, embodies an exceptional model for distinguished partnerships under the umbrella of the Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab Countries (EFTAs), a partnership that included a large group Among the institutions that have been employing their efforts and resources to make this project a success and maximize its returns, with fruitful cooperation between the International Trade Center, the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, the Export Development Authority of the Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Business Women’s Association of Egypt, and the Export Council for Crafts and Handicrafts, and with generous support from The Islamic Development Bank, which I have the honor to represent the Arab Republic of Egypt in its Board of Governors.

Al-Saeed added that the celebration we are witnessing today is not only a celebration of the achievements of the Women in International Trade Project in Egypt, but rather a tribute and culmination of a successful and extended process of joint work over many decades between Egypt and the Islamic Development Bank Group, which contributed to the financing of hundreds of Projects that cover various areas of development, the most important of which are the sectors of finance, agriculture, health, education, energy, infrastructure and industry. Egypt is also proud of the distinguished development partnership with the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, which has so far resulted in a portfolio of cooperation between Egypt and the Corporation that amounted to about $16 billion since the establishment of the Corporation in 2008 until September 2022. Strategic goods, strengthening internal value chains, promoting SME growth and trade development. This process is also characterized by its extended nature, as there is a firm desire on both sides to continue and intensify this cooperation in the next stage, which was reflected in the signing of the 2022 annual work program between the two sides in February 2022, as well as the renewal of the framework agreement concluded between the two sides in 2018. , with an increase in the credit limit of the agreement to $6 billion.

Al-Saeed thanked all the partner parties on both sides, which have been engaged in continuous cooperation and coordination and providing support in all its forms. For the success of the SheTrades Egypt project, which was specifically designed to achieve a strategic goal of empowering women economically by focusing on supporting businesswomen in the handicraft sector in Egypt to maintain and develop their businesses and actively participate in development efforts. This is what the project aimed to achieve by creating more job opportunities for women and girls, and building a more supportive environment to enhance their ability to play a more effective economic role.

Al-Saeed emphasized that the Women in International Trade Project in Egypt represents a bright meeting point with the state’s development orientation, which gives priority in all axes of the Egyptian state’s vision and its various development programs to empower women politically, economically and socially, as this project yielded outputs that contributed to supporting small businesses. Through the project, 35 women-owned small and medium-sized companies were qualified with the skills required for product design, adherence to quality standards, packaging techniques, marketing, access to finance, and efficiency Pricing, by providing specialized consultancy services for their projects. This is in addition to what the project provided a great opportunity for the beneficiaries to learn through practice, which will contribute to increasing the volume and doubling the value of business in the coming months and years, in line with the unremitting efforts of all state agencies and institutions to improve the conditions of women and provide the appropriate environment to empower them and expand their participation In all areas.

Al-Saeed referred to the national project for the development of the Egyptian countryside, “a decent life initiative” and its role in improving the living conditions of Egyptian women, which is the largest development project implemented by the Egyptian state in its history, whether in terms of funding allocations of nearly one trillion pounds, or in terms of beneficiaries, who number approximately 60 million A citizen residing in all villages of the Egyptian countryside, where the initiative contributes to providing funding for women, as well as vocational training that ends with employment, in addition to encouraging women to join the labor market through the establishment of childcare facilities.

Al-Saeed talked about the national project for the development of the Egyptian family, which was launched by the state in March 2022, with the aim of improving the quality of life of the citizen and the family in general, and at the heart of which is improving the conditions of women, who represent the mainstay of the family in particular. Financial conditions conditional on adherence to the controls that guarantee the health of women and the improvement of their living conditions. The Egyptian state also launched in March 2022 the “Government Excellence Award for Equal Opportunities and Empowerment of Women”, as a special category of institutional excellence, in implementation of the assignments of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in the Egyptian Women’s Celebration 2022. The launch of this category of the award comes in appreciation of the role of women in society and in pursuit of To increase the chances of her participation in government jobs, and thus this award comes in line with the national strategy for women’s empowerment, and in light of the implementation of the goals of Egypt’s Vision 2030.

The Minister of Planning and Economic Development concluded her speech by emphasizing the complementarity and synergy of all these efforts with Egypt’s constant and tireless pursuit to achieve comprehensive and sustainable development through a participatory approach and support the efforts of international cooperation and regional integration during this defining stage, as Egypt attaches great priority to consolidating the foundations of cooperation and joint coordination with all partners Development, at the international and regional levels, which is embodied through the signing of the executive program to qualify and train 50 women to export in the fields of handicrafts and heritage, which we will witness today between the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation and the Medium, Small and Micro Enterprise Development Agency, to complement the efforts of both sides in the field of empowerment In addition to the technical assistance grant agreement that we will witness signing today also between the Trade Development Fund, which was established and managed by the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, Misr El Kheir Foundation in the Arab Republic of Egypt; With the aim of providing financial support to Misr El Kheir Foundation to establish a production unit for furniture in Beni Suef Governorate in the Arab Republic of Egypt, which will contribute to building the capacities of 15 beneficiaries, both economically and professionally, to produce distinct products suitable for competition in the local market, in addition to about 60 indirect beneficiaries of both sexes who will have opportunities to Work in the production unit.

For his part, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, said, “It gives me great pleasure and honor to participate in this joyous occasion, which is the important ceremony of the SheTrades program in Egypt, a global program designed and implemented by the Trade Center ITC in Geneva, with funding from the Islamic Development Bank, the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) and the Assistance for Trade Initiative for Arab Countries (IFTIAS) program. And the Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry, in addition to the Export Development Authority, the Export Council of Handicrafts, the National Council for Women, and the experts who contributed to this program.

Engineer Hani Sonbol confirmed that the Arab Republic of Egypt is one of the most important partners of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation. Since its inception in 2008, the Foundation has provided funding exceeding 14 billion US dollars and has signed five framework agreements for the benefit of the Arab Republic of Egypt so far. Where these funds contributed to supporting the food and energy security of the Arab Republic of Egypt in addition to the development of medium, small and micro enterprises, and within the framework of the integrated business solutions methodology of the Corporation and recognizing the importance of the developmental role of trade, the Corporation’s services were not limited to commercial finance only, but also included assistance projects Technical and capacity building in the field of trade development.

The CEO of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation added that the SheTrades Women in Trade program in Egypt is evidence of the trade development projects supported by the Corporation. Since its launch in 2020, and despite the circumstances of the Corona pandemic (Covid 19), the program has provided assistance to thirty small and medium-sized companies owned and operated by women in Egypt. The program has provided technical assistance and capacity building activities to enable the beneficiary institutions to diversify products and services and expand into local and international markets.

The program also provided support to bodies working in the development of trade in evaluating their services to support trade and adapting them to the needs of women and entrepreneurs. Within the framework of the program, the beneficiaries of the program were able to obtain training and consultancy in various fields such as quality management, pricing, marketing, packaging and access to financing. The program was also able to achieve its two main objectives: First: “Strengthening the capabilities of the Export Development Authority (EDA) and selected trade support institutions (Trade Support Institutes) to enable small and medium-sized enterprises owned by women to sell in local and regional markets, and second: “Increasing the capabilities of small and medium-sized enterprises owned by women to sell in local and regional markets”, where since the last quarter of 2021, 4 training workshops have been organized for 30 institutions benefiting from the project.

Engineer Hani Sonbol pointed out that the Women in Trade Program in Egypt comes in light of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation’s full realization of the positive impact of women’s economic empowerment on her life, the life of her community and the development cycle as a whole, as the program is in harmony with the sustainable development goals. The core of the program is to promote empowerment The program is also in line with the eighth goal on “promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” as well as the seventeenth goal on “strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development “.

He explained that UN Women statistics indicate that women’s participation in the labor force in the Middle East and North Africa does not exceed 20.5%, and it is estimated that 33% of women in the region participate in vulnerable employment compared to 23% of men.

Women are over-represented in low-paid professions, while there are very few women in top positions in the region. Therefore, the Foundation calls on all development partners in the region to redouble their efforts to improve the economic conditions of women in the region and to support women entrepreneurs, especially owners of small and medium businesses.

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