Social Fund for Development, Swedish Embassy and UNDP celebrate Entrepreneur Women’s Day

The Social Fund for Development (SFD) organized the Entrepreneur Women’s Day in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Swedish Embassy on Monday 26 October 2015 in Cairo.

UNDP supported SFD in establishing a Gender Unit to mainstream gender in all of its programmes and operations, both at central and local levels. The Gender Unit has conducted several in-house training sessions, produced promotional materials to advocate for women’s economic empowerment as well as implemented a pilot gender equality strategy and action plan. The unit is also assessing SFD’s financial and non-financial services from a gender lens to provide a renewed strategic direction, focused on fostering women’s economic empowerment.

During the event, Ms. Soha Soliman, Managing Director of SFD, mentioned that Egypt ranked 129 out of 142 in the Global Gender Gap Index in 2014. Women reached 20 percent in the economic activity and 32 percent in leadership positions which shows that women’s participation in the economic sphere must increase. In addition, the percentage of women in small enterprises reached 24 percent while 47 percent of micro-enterprises. SFD has an ambitious plan to build women’s capacity and help them acquire the needed skills through providing them with financial and non-financial/technical services.

Ms. Anita Nirody, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, mentioned that “the UN in Egypt has been active in the area of women empowerment advancing gender equality is a goal in itself and we recognize the importance it plays in accelerating progress on sustainable development”. The fifth goal of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is “Achieve Gender Equality and Empower all Women and Girls” is crucial to accelerate sustainable development. Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, but it also has a multiplier effect across all other development areas.

Women entrepreneurs were awarded prizes in recognition of their success. Two women entrepreneurs, who benefited from SFD’s services, presented their stories. Samira El Mougy is one of the women entrepreneurs who received two loans from SFD in addition to non-financial services such as marketing, exhibitions, feasibility studies as well as Women in Business Programme. She spoke about her story, noting that a large selection of her products is currently displayed at large chains such as “Omar Effendi” now known to be “Creative Egypt” supported by the Industrial Modernization Center (IMC). El Mougy participated in several exhibitions and received a course from Goldman Sachs Women Progamme in 2011. She produces home supplies, decoration and textile manufacturing.

Mary Gerges Roshdy is another successful entrepreneur who received a loan and non-financial services from SFD and spoke about her success story as the first  winner in “ Start your business” Shell competition due to her successful work in hospital supplies manufacturing such as aprons, gloves and sheets.

In addition, an exhibition for the products of women beneficiaries from SFD was opened during the event in which high quality products were displayed.

This event presented exceptional women who were able to use some resources and loans to make their dreams come true. With the support of SFD and its partners, women entrepreneurs successfully established their businesses and saved their seats in the business community.

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