Washington, DC, Kuwait, UAE, Lebanon, Morocco, November 14, 2011—The American non-profit education organization AMIDEAST and the Citi Foundation—Citi's philanthropic arm—today announced the launch of the Arab Women's Entrepreneurship Project (AWEP) in four countries: Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco and the UAE. This initiative, which will be launched in November, aims to provide 80 female entrepreneurs from underserved backgrounds with training that will help them start a new business or expand an existing one.
AMIDEAST will deliver an initial three-week training session that focuses on building entrepreneurship awareness and fundamental business skills, such as how to formulate a business plan, obtain a loan and handle basic business accounting. This will be followed by a six-month period during which participants will apply what they've learned. Mentors from Citi—fielded locally as well as virtually through Citi's global Women's Diversity Network—will provide support and assistance to the new entrepreneurs as they confront challenges and problems, and the groups will gather periodically to review progress and share success stories. An online forum will encourage the women to network and support each other during this period.
Expansion of training opportunities for Arab women, particularly in entrepreneurship, is important for improving the region's development prospects. According to a 2009 study by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the income of women in Arab countries stagnates, on average, at less than one quarter of average national income levels. It also found that female entrepreneurs in Arab countries face greater challenges in accessing training, markets and finance, although they provide a significant share of female employment and tend to hire more women than do other business entities.
"AMIDEAST is pleased to partner with Citi Foundation to offer a valuable training opportunity for women in Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco and the UAE. AMIDEAST's approach focuses on empowering women entrepreneurs with skills and techniques that will enable them to more fully realize their economic potential and benefit from networking and mentoring relationships that foster business success," said AMIDEAST President and CEO Theodore H. Kattouf.
"AWEP is Citi's first truly regional training project targeting local women entrepreneurs," said Atiq Ur Rehman, Citi's Chief Executive Officer for the Middle East. "Our strategic alliance with AMIDEAST ensures that aspiring entrepreneurs in the region will have the chance to lead successful businesses and contribute to job creation in their markets. It also complements our efforts in this domain across various individual markets in MENA."