The Green Impact MED Project (GIMED) has joined the International Women’s Day Celebration (IWD), a global day upbringing the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. As a matter of fact, women have gained a vast presence within the project and hence GIMED is happy to share testimonials reflecting the work done by women in the Mediterranean.
Positive investments for positive impacts is the major call from this EU-funded project under the ENICBCMED Programme, aiming at supporting green entrepreneurs to better access to finance and markets in the Mediterranean area. Behind the project, officially kicked off on October 2019 in Barcelona, there are six partner organisations belonging to six different Mediterranean countries: Catalan Waste Agency – SPC/RAC (Spain), Berytech Foundation (Lebanon), Leaders International (Palestine), Conect (Tunisia), Alexandria Business Association (Egypt) and Fondazione di Comunità di Messina (Italy).
Women are a great source of value behind the operational team of the partner organisations giving their best to support green economy an early-stage ventures in the beneficiary countries. Therefore, as a commemoration for the IWD 2021, under the hashtag #ChooseToChallenge, we have chosen to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements by tackling gender bias and inequality.
Andrea Ruzo, Project Manager at SCP/RAC – Catalan Waste Agency
Since 2020, she is coordinating the GIMED project and helping partners find and support amazing green entrepreneurs all over the Mediterranean. Masters in International Business, she has gained over 10 years of experience working in business development and project management in Asia, Latin America, Africa and Europe. Andrea loves traveling around the world with her camera.
Data shows that the gender breach is a reality: in 2019 only 22% of the start-ups in Spain were run by women. In a research study made by Action Against Hunger, they showed that, even if at the ideation stage almost 50% of the young entrepreneurs were women, in the consolidation stage this number dropped to 37%.
“To me, this clearly shows that women in Spain have the necessary education, motivation and skills to be entrepreneurs, but the cultural and social context is still favouring men against women and it’s making it more difficult for us to success”
Haneen Al Taweel, Senior Finance Officer at Leaders International
She is a talented woman over seven years of experience in accounting, training and finance. Certified advances in financial Excel, Haneen loves traveling, cooking and working out. “During the past few years, an increasing number of women have joined the growing entrepreneurial community in Palestine, many of which have excelled in introducing and developing green ideas”, Al Taweel says.
Taking her as an example, other women have taken leadership and management positions to help other Palestinian women become active agents of green innovation, social entrepreneurship and sustainable development.
Maria de Cola, Administrative Officer at Fondazione di Communità di Messina
Holding a Bachelor’s Degree in political science and a master degree in sociology and research, she has joined FDCM in 2015 dealing mainly with administrative and secretary activities. She is currently engaged in the implementation of GIMED’s activities, also as a trainer for entrepreneurs. She is passionate with yoga, trekking and scuba diving.
“The situation of female entrepreneurs in Italy is currently quite dramatic”, she states. According to a recent study, out of the 444,000 persons who lost their job in Italy throughout 2020, 70% are women. The crisis is also hitting women’s businesses, interrupting the growth trend that had been going on for six years: at the end of 2020, there has been a decrease of 0.29%, equal to almost 4.000 fewer businesses run by women, compared to 2019.
The Italian government is now trying to address this specific issue, and the 2021 National Budget Law deploys a package of measures to encourage female entrepreneurship, with specific funding dedicated to support the start-up and consolidation of businesses run by women, through grants, venture capital, subsidised loans and capacity building.
“I sincerely hope that these measures, combined with the new European Green Deal, will boost the engagement of women in green entrepreneurship”, Maria points out.
Tala Saleh, Programs Manager at Berytech Foundation
She is currently managing two EU-Funded under ENI CBC MED programs, GIMED and STANDUp!, focusing on the development of circular economy business ventures in the Mediterranean in the green, textile and fashion sector. Tala loves explorint new activities and pushing her limits. She enjoys playing tennis, dancing salsa and traveling to new countries.
“Women entrepreneurs today are not only facing the constraints that arise from gender inequality with the limited access to funding and growth opportunities but are struggling with the political, financial, social unrest and covid-19 pandemic that have been shutting down businesses”, she confirms. Despite all of that, Berytech is dedicated to supporting women entrepreneurs in overcoming the constraints they face today to thrive in entrepreneurship and in maximizing their potential contributions in several sectors especially in the green sector.
In Lebanon, almost half of its 59 entrepreneurs under GIMED’s programme are women who are focusing through their green solutions and innovations on developing a green economy to combat environmental degradation and create job opportunities. “Berytech is keen on supporting women entrepreneurs and committing to the UN Sustainable Development Goal, SDG5 – Gender Equality, by setting a female quota for all our programs and by partnering with programs and competitions specifically designed for women”, Tala says.
“There is an obvious gender gap in female entrepreneurship in Egypt. Entrepreneurs in general and female entrepreneurs specially have greater opportunities in and around the capital Cairo, the entrepreneurship hub of Egypt”, Iman says.
Iman Kamel, Head of eco-innovation at Alexandria Business Association
Over 17 years of extensive experience in international organizations and investment firms, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the American University in Cairo. Iman’s hobbies include traveling, visiting art museums, aerobics and backing.
“There is an obvious gender gap in female entrepreneurship in Egypt. Entrepreneurs in general and female entrepreneurs specially have greater opportunities in and around the capital Cairo, the entrepreneurship hub of Egypt”. The current Minister of Environment in Egypt is a woman and according to Kamel, very strong supporter of the circular and green economy.
In Kamel’s words, Egypt is becoming the first country in the MENA Region to launch a closing the gender gap accelerator which seeks to reduce the gender gap in the labour market, change stereotypes around surrounding Egyptian women and advance Egyptian women’s economic empowerment efforts. “The main challenges women entrepreneurs face includes family ties and gender roles, education, finance and limited mobility from rural areas”, Kamel says.
« Female entrepreneurship in Tunisia is flourishing thanks to inspiring and challenging women who have been able to use their talents and skills to overcome segregation in our society »
Safa Lassoued, Project Finance Manager at CONECT
Since 2017, Safa has managed the financial department of national and international projects. Also, she is a food and healthy life enthusiast, passionate about swimming and traveling. For several generations, Tunisia has been engaged in a process focused on the evolution of the place of women in Tunisian society.
« Female entrepreneurship in Tunisia is flourishing thanks to inspiring and challenging women who have been able to use their talents and skills to overcome segregation in our society », Safa says. Today, because of conventional ideas and mental and structural barriers, we have noticed that few of them are crossing the line.
At CONECT, they have always tried to promote Tunisian women and support them to overcome the challenges they face in order to contribute to the strengthening of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tunisia. In order to emphasise this commitment, CONECT in partnership with ALMA’s has launched in 2018 the Woman Manager of the Year Trophy, created to promote women’s economic leadership and to honour Tunisian women managers.