With the support of a grant from the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), CEED’s Tunisian and Moroccan chapters have been building out their focus and support of women entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship promotes economic growth and development; however, North African entrepreneurs experience more challenges growing small businesses because of a lack of opportunities. Women are far less likely to be entrepreneurs in North Africa and those who do start businesses often have challenges scaling them. The UfM grant will allow CEED to help these women-led businesses access mentorship, training programs, and networking across the region.
The grant will last until the end of the year with the CEED centers including 100 women-led companies in the program called We Inspire. The women in the program represent a multitude of different industries from fintech to tourism to retail. Originally, the purpose of the grant was to grow these women-led companies, but in the midst of a COVID-19 word, the objective has shifted to guiding them through the crisis, as a baseline analysis showed over a third of the entrepreneurs in the program are uncertain that their businesses will survive until 2021. CEED’s Global Director, Peter Righi, responded to the award by saying, “This grant will be catalytic in serving underserved women-led businesses in Morocco and Tunisia. This will promote job creation, regional collaboration, and dialogue and create a significant positive impact for the citizens of Morocco and Tunisia.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic had posed a challenge to running networking events and hosting peer-group meetings, the CEED Morocco and Tunisia centers adjusted quickly to hosting the programming online. In June, they brought together entrepreneurs from the two centers on a virtual networking session and hosted a webinar about managing the COVID-19 crisis as a business owner with four female entrepreneur panelists from Morocco, Tunisia, and Indonesia. The centers are getting creative and finding great success in delivering meaningful services for the women-entrepreneurs even in this new socially-distanced world.