Final Conference

A Final Conference on the second project phase took place during the VIII MEDA Women Entrepreneurs Forum (April 28th 2016, Cairo - Egypt). During the Conference, representatives from the partnering businesswomen associations from Egypt (EBWA) and Jordan (JFBPW), representatives from the Helwan University and some young participants from Egypt shared their experience


How did our project born? Last  October 2015 the European Investment Bank (EIB) hosted the 15th Conference of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) which explored the links between private sector finance, entrepreneurship and job creation. And within this analysis it highlighted that, considering that the Mediterranean region will see a large number of new entrants into the labour market by 2025, creating employment opportunities, in particular for young people, is a key priority for the countries of the region. And it was stated that whilst the role of the public sector is essential to further strengthen the enabling infrastructure and regulatory environment to underpin the growth potential, the private sector will be critical to drive employment and job creation.

Within this context of a strong need to support young women’s transition from education to work in the Mediterranean region, AFAEMME developed the “Young Women as Job Creators” initiative. 
The first project phase… … was labeled by the Union for the Mediterranean in November 2011 and has been supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Spanish private company Gas Natural Fenosa SDG and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Phase I 

Focused on motivating young women so that they would perceive entrepreneurship as a real and attractive alternative  to a swamped labour market and on helping some of them to transform their initial business ideas into something much more concrete (business planning). Phase I was successfully implemented in 2013-2014 in Morocco, Palestine, Jordan and Spain. Eighteen motivating Women Entrepreneurship Days (WEDs), a series of seminars providing participants with basic training and coaching to create new businesses, were held in cooperation with a total of thirty-two local universities, higher education centres, schools and national businesswomen’s organisations. 

The WEDs brought together approximately 800 male and female university students, providing them with free advice on how to create a new business and motivating them to pursue entrepreneurial careers. The WEDs focused specifically on informing participants on the basic legal and business issues involved in setting up a new company, with an additional focus on analysing their business ideas. Throughout the project, emphasis has been placed on the role and importance of women as entrepreneurs and job creators for the development of national economies. 
In order to measure the impact of Phase I of the project we analyzed both quantitative and qualitative data. The goal of the project’s first phase was to motivate at least 100 participants per country for entrepreneurship; this was more than achieved with a total of 726 young women in 4 countries participating in the motivational Women Entrepreneurship Days. To obtain qualitative data,  we distributed questionnaires among the participants in order to gather feedback about the program as well as about the situation of women entrepreneurs in the beneficiary countries. 

The participants’ reactions were overwhelmingly positive, stating that the project gave them an opportunity to express and explore their professional aspirations and boosted their confidence and determination to pursue their entrepreneurial careers. 
While there were some slight differences related to cultural and societal influences on the perception about women entrepreneurship1, the young participants, regardless the country of residence, clearly identified the lack of prior experience (skills) and the lack of financial resources as main obstacles for business start-ups.

Phase II 

The second project phase… … strove to go a step further - to not only motivate, but prepare participants as well for real business creation. In order to avoid abandoning them with immature Business Plans, the project guides participants in the creation of thorough and achievable plans and provides them the necessary skills for successfully running their future businesses. Apart from the Women Entrepreneurship Days and the business planning advice, the project offered specific training on marketing, management and finance to the young participants, as well as individual mentoring in all areas where they might need support. Young Women as Job Creators II has been implemented during 2015 and 2016 in Albania, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia



AFAEMME's "Young Women as Job Creators" project experience was shared as a good example of youth entrepreneurship promotion during the VIII Mediterranean Women Entrepreneurs Forum in Cairo.

This UfM labeled project, funded in its second phase by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Principality of Monaco, motivated and trained more than 1.500 young women university students for entrepreneurship in Albania, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Spain and Tunisia.

The main conclusions of the dialogue which took place between representatives from the participating universities, partnering businesswomen associations; and some young project beneficiaries from Egypt are the following:

  • It is crucial and necessary to introduce an entrepreneurial culture in the universities. Young women need to be aware of the potential of entrepreneurship and be encouraged to overcome the obstacles of an entrepreneurial path.
  • Real and accessible role models have an important role in terms of motivating women towards entrepreneurship. Direct meetings with other young successful women entrepreneurs are far more impactful and encouraging than role models in the media.
  • The family context of the young women directly influences their choices. A supportive familiar environment is key for young women entering the business world.
  • Especially where the quality of education is low, access to specific training which provides the young women with fundamental skills for entrepreneurship is critical.
  • It has to be taken into account that not every young woman is an entrepreneur or should become one. Entrepreneurship can be taught, but not imposed.