Participants pose for a group photo at the event.
Staff Reporter, Gulf Today
During a recent field visit to South Africa, NAMA Women Advancement (NAMA) reviewed both the achievements and challenges of its “Stimulating Equal Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs” flagship programme, launched in the country in partnership with UN Women in 2018 to remove structural barriers to gender equality and foster women’s economic empowerment.
Since its commencement in South Africa, projects initiated under FPI have enhanced the capacities of around 16,000 women-owned enterprises to participate in various value chains.
Participating in a series of roundtable discussions, briefing meetings, and field visits with Mahash Saeed Al Hameli, UAE Ambassador to South Africa, Fatima Yousuf Al Suwaidi, First Secretary at the UAE Embassy in South Africa, stakeholders, national partners, and beneficiaries of the programme during the five-day visit, NAMA also identified areas for improvement and new opportunities to expand its footprints in empowering women entrepreneurs worldwide.
With a focus on South Africa and the UAE, the Flagship Programme Initiative (FPI) is designed to build and maximise the capacity of women-owned businesses to benefit from public and private sector procurement contracts, especially in non-traditional sectors. By leveraging the commitment of the government and corporate sectors, the programme aims to foster the creation of an SME support ecosystem and facilitate access to new procurement markets and finance, while also addressing the demand and supply constraints of buyers and entrepreneurs.
Leading the NAMA delegation, Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA, outlined the transformational potential of creating an enabling ecosystem for women entrepreneurs by leveraging gender-responsive procurement as a force for strengthening the capacities of women business owners to access finance and enterprise development.
A broad range of stakeholders including representatives of UN Women, officials from the South African government, private sector entities – namely signatories of Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), representatives of women associations, local NGOs, and training institutions were part of the visit that highlighted the progress of NAMA’s flagship programme activities in South Africa to identify best practices and lessons learned.
Implemented in partnership with UN Women, governments, the private sector, investors, civil society, women entrepreneurs, and women’s enterprise associations, the ongoing Flagship Programme Initiative offers capacity building to women-owned enterprises.