Middle East and North Africa
MENA Businesswomen's Network
In 2005, a group of women entrepreneurs from the Middle East and North Africa gathered in Tunis. These women committed to leading a movement that would expand the number of MENA women in business, increase the value of their ventures and promote a regional culture of women’s entrepreneurship.
Over the next five years, Vital Voices worked with leaders of women’s business associations from 10 MENA countries to form the MENA Businesswomen’s Network (MENA BWN). This network represented a unified voice for women who were committed to social progress through economic development. The businesswomen’s organizations in each of these countries acted as “Hubs” of the broader regional network. With organizational capacity building support and technical assistance from Vital Voices and funding from MEPI, the MENA BWN implemented a range of programs and workshops, focusing on topics like access to credit, starting a business, youth entrepreneurship, business skills development, accelerating growth and strategic planning.
In 2010, the MENA BWN was incorporated and launched as an independent organization in Bahrain. Its present goal is to “increase opportunities for women to advance in their economies by strengthening and expanding the MENA Businesswomen’s Network and its member associations to have a greater impact on its members and contribute to the larger community.” With support from ExxonMobil, Vital Voices will continue to partner with the MENA BWN to provide programs and technical assistance, while the organization develops its regional infrastructure and diversifies its funding sources.
MENA BWN results spanning 2007-2010
• 10 member Hubs have been formed, representing 2,500 businesswomen
• 18,500 businesswomen and men have participated in Hub programs
• 478 new businesses have been started by female participants
• 70% of MENA BWN members have participated in civil society and non-governmental organizations
• 91% of participants have reported benefits to their businesses
• 66% of participants have reported new business-to-business connections
• 20 advocacy campaigns have been launched by Hubs and 8 new policies were successfully adopted
• $1.25 million has been raised by Hubs in contribution to MENA BWN programs