Sana’a, April 9, 2006— The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, conducted a seminar in Sana’a, Yemen, to discuss the 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’s technical assistance facility, the Private Enterprise Partnership for the Middle East and North Africa (PEP-MENA).
The objective was to present the preliminary findings and conclusions of the report while promoting discussion and receiving feedback from Yemeni businesswomen, representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, donors, and other stakeholders with an interest in gender issues.
The World Bank Group’s Investment Climate Assessments identify and prioritize investment climate constraints, benchmark progress on reform, provide cross-country comparisons of investment climate indicators, and help countries forge broad consensus on priority areas for reform. These assessments feed into World Bank and IFC operations and technical assistance.
Andrew H. W. Stone, senior private sector development specialist in 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 would have positive effects on women’s entrepreneurial activities. Mr. Stone noted, “According to the presentation and participants’ contributions, key investment climate factors put Yemeni women at a disadvantage as they undertake business activities. These include educational attainment, access to finance and services, weaknesses in the legal and regulatory system, cultural attitudes and lack of networks.”
John Speakman, lead private sector development specialist at the World Bank, who led the gender work on the Yemen Investment Climate Assessment, pointed out that Yemeni women have more difficulties than men in accessing collateral and establishing personal contacts in banks.” He added that education is a key factor, “as 70 percent of the businesswomen who were surveyed have only completed high school. Recommendations included integrating gender issues in policy and regulatory processes, as well as increasing business management skills training for women.
The Gender Entrepreneurship Markets (GEM) program gives technical assistance to women-owned small and medium enterprises by addressing gender-based economic barriers and by developing the capacity of women entrepreneurs, with the objective of contributing to economic growth and job creation. Based on the results of a recent assessment and stakeholder consultation, the GEM program in Yemen has had a positive effect on the number of women-owned enterprises by improving access to finance and relevant business services.
PEP-MENA is IFC’s technical assistance facility that supports 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 the growth of small and medium enterprises and their support services, such as 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.
The International Finance Corporation is the private sector arm of the World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. IFC coordinates its activities with the other institutions of the World Bank Group but is legally and financially independent. Its 178 member countries provide its share capital and collectively determine its policies.
The mission of IFC is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing and transition countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY05, IFC has committed more than $49 billion of its own funds and arranged $24 billion in syndications for 3,319 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY05 was $19.3 billion for its own account and $5.3 billion held for participants in loan syndications. For more information, visit www.ifc.org