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More than one million women in working age but only 3% of bank loans given to women entrepreneurs


According to the statistics released by the database affiliated to the World Bank, Lebanon counted in 2012 more than one million women in working age (15 to 64).  However, the same sources indicated that women’s participation as active economic actors remains fully or partially stunted.  Indeed, the recent studies undertaken by the IFC (International Finance Cooperation) noted that despite the increased access to university education by Lebanese women, only 3% of bank loans are given to pioneer business women.  These statistics were discussed during a roundtable organised by Endeavour on October 2nd and covered at the time by the Women Economic Empowerment Portal (WEEPortal) in a news flash entitled “Only 22% of the Lebanese workforce is women, & coaching is a key element to women’s integration in technology and business”, on 7/10/2013.

Al Diyar newspaper published last Tuesday a more detailed coverage of this event and of its ensuing recommendations in which participants emphasized the importance of extending additional efforts to support an environment that is conducive to business women in Lebanon.  Participants highlighted the important role that the private sector, banks, policy makers and civil society organisations should play to ensure that this environment becomes indeed more conducive for women.  For instance, they noted that private companies should put in place, as part of their corporate social responsibilities, programmes that empower women.  Banks should also provide wider financial services and facilities for women who own small and medium businesses especially since women have proven to have a higher repayment rate than men.  The government should, for its part, put in place more favorable policies which include tax exemption, a special investment fund for new businesses run by women as well other banking incentives to allow women more access to bank loans.  Finally, participants highlighted the important role that civil society organisations plays in promoting awareness raising on issues facing pioneer business women while  challenging social and cultural barriers and supporting pioneer women leaders especially particularly of the younger generation.
Source: Al-Diyar 18 October 2013

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