Rabat - The World Bank payed tribute to women entrepreneurs who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields by acting for a resilient future in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) in an awarding ceremony held on Sunday in Casablanca.
Rabat – The World Bank payed tribute to women entrepreneurs who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields by acting for a resilient future in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) in an awarding ceremony held on Sunday in Casablanca.
The final of the Women Entrepreneurs of the MENA region (WeMENA) contest, a regional initiative launched by the World Bank, and supported by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), selected four winners from Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt, among the 200 women entrepreneurs in the region who participated in the contest, sharing a $ 150,000 prize.
Selma Ben’akcha, Moroccan founder of Alternative Solutions enterprise, was awarded third place in the competition, collecting a $ 20,000 prize for her social project which “fights deforestation and climate change, producing and marketing palm branches based on wood and fodder,” explained the 21-year-old student at the Tanger FST.
Ben’akcha’s projects aim to “reduce and minimize the greenhouse gas emissions produced by burning branches that are abandoned in nature, while they are very valuable resources to the farmer,” she explains, “as well as minimizing deforestation through the commercialization of wood, all this by creating employment opportunities.”
The WeMENA competition rewards innovative projects designed to address the major urban development challenges facing the MENA region in the areas of transport, energy, infrastructure and sustainable development.
In Casablanca, the last 30 finalists had the opportunity to meet with World Bank investors, mentors and staff, who will be able to guide, promote and financially support their projects. By 2015, the WeMENA initiative had already given a boost to seven women-run enterprises in Beirut, Cairo and Djibouti.
In 2016, the WeMena context was extended to include eight cities in the MENA region: Byblos and Beirut (Lebanon), Amman (Jordan), Ramallah (West Bank), Cairo and Alexandria (Egypt), Tunis (Tunisia), and last but not least, Casablanca, marking an evolution and development which was accompanied by a considerable increase in the number of participants.
The WeMENA initiative aims to provide solutions to three major challenges facing the MENA region. First, it seeks to promote women entrepreneurship and women-owned enterprises in a region where the female participation rate is still very poor, reaching half that of the world. It also seeks to create new pathways to employment through entrepreneurship in a region known with high unemployment rates and to support climate change preparedness strategies and strengthen the resilience of cities in a region exposed to multiple shocks and tensions, including natural disasters, floods and droughts, blackouts, migratory crises and social unrest.