The UK and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding to help boost business opportunities and create jobs for thousands of women across the Middle East and North Africa.
International Development Minister Desmond Swayne met Dr Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani, President of the IDB today, to sign the agreement and to discuss opportunities for continued co-operation in the region.
The Arab Women’s Enterprise Fund will see the IDB and the Department for International Development working together to improve the competitiveness of women entrepreneurs in the Arab world. It will also address legal and cultural barriers that block women getting ahead in business.
DFID will contribute £10 million to provide grants to help poor women access markets, which could include support to grow or start up businesses or to develop new products. IDB will match this with a further £10 million in Sharia-compliant Islamic finance.
Desmond Swayne said:
This is an incredibly important programme for the UK and the IDB alike. Supporting women entrepreneurs and empowering women in the workplace will directly benefit some of the poorest and most marginalised women across the Middle East and North Africa.
In the long run, this will also boost economic growth and ultimately benefit stability in a part of the world that currently has the lowest rates of female participation in the global labour force. That has to change.
Now that the memorandum has been signed, the next step will be the start of the procurement process for the implementing agency that will manage and deliver the programme. This process will begin shortly.
Any agencies interested in applying for this should make sure that they are signed up to the DFID Supplier Portal, where details will be published when they become available. They can sign up using the following link: https://supplierportal.dfid.gov.uk/selfservice/.