By QUADRI SALIU
In its newest chapter in Egypt, the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (www.ITFC-idb.org), a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, launched the “SheTrades” initiative in Egypt, which is implemented by the International Trade Center (ITC) within the framework of the Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab States (AfTIAS) program.
The launch took place in the presence of H.E Dr. Hala El Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development and the Governor of Egypt at the Islamic Development Bank, H.E Mrs. Nevin Gamea, Minister of Trade and Industry, H.E Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO ITFC, H.E Dr. Maya Morsi, President of the National Council for Women, and Ms. Elena Panova, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Egypt. H.E Dr. Pamela Cook Hamilton, Executive Director of the International Trade Center, and May Ali Babiker, Manager, Regional Hub in Cairo, Islamic Development Bank also attended the launch via video conference.
H.E Dr. Hala El Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, noted that “Egypt’s total cooperation portfolio with the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation amounts to US$12.5 billion, underscoring the value of this partnership. ITFC backs a number of distinguished projects and programs, particularly the Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab States, that support trade facilitation, youth employment, capacity support, addressing non-tariff measures, and skills development for Egyptian exporters. To help women contribute to the well-being of their families and the overall society, the SheTrades Egypt project was specifically designed to achieve the strategic goal of empowering women economically by focusing on supporting entrepreneurs in the handicraft sector. This sector is an extremely important target, as one out of every five Egyptian companies in the handicraft sector is owned by a woman.”
The new chapter launched in Egypt will build on the experiences and network of the ITC’s SheTrades Program, which aims to connect three million women entrepreneurs to markets by the end of 2021 in the areas of export capacity building, export readiness and market access. Supported by ITFC under the AfTIAS framework, the SheTrades initiative in Egypt is designed to help women access new markets and improve competitiveness through digital technologies to grow their businesses.
ITFC CEO Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol commenting on the program said: “Trade plays a substantial role in expanding women’s role in the economy, decreasing inequality and the associated costs on the global economy. SheTrades Initiative will help Egyptian women entrepreneurs reap the benefits of trade. According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, US$28 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. Placing women at the heart of ITFC’s priorities through the SheTrades initiative, works beyond than just connecting women entrepreneurs to markets, but more importantly to identify rising global trends and exploit new technologies and environments, such as the digital economy and virtual learning, to open up important economic opportunities for women.”
The SheTrades initiative will focus on increasing the participation of 50 small and medium enterprises owned by Egyptian women in the export-oriented value chain. The project will enhance the capabilities of women-led small businesses through trainings in production, packaging, logistics, trade information, quality management, marketing, and sales for a specific sector. The selected medium, small and micro enterprises will also benefit from the best export practices and directly communicate with export markets and buyers.
The SheTrades initiative is also aligned with Egypt’s national vision to implement the UN Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and directly supports achieving three of the 17 SDGs:
- Goal 5 – Gender Equality aims ‘to empower all women and girls’
- Goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth aims to ‘promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all’
- Goal 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure aims to ‘build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation’