WTO launches $50m fund for female entrepreneurs - GulfToday

WTO launches $50m fund for female entrepreneurs


Photo used for illustrative purpose.

The director general of the World Trade Organisation, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Sunday launched a $50 million fund to help female entrepeneurs in developing countries to export more using the opportunities offered by the digital economy.

The announcement came ahead of the 13th ministerial conference of the WTO which opens on February 29 in the United Arab Emirates.

Okonjo-Iweala, speaking alongside the Emirati Minster of State for Foreign Trade Thani Al Zeyoudi, said the “ground-breaking initiative... embodies our collective commitment to empower women”.

“We need catalytic solutions to solve the financing issue that women face,” she added.

The fund will help businesses run by women in developing countries to adopt digital technologies and increase their online presence.

Zeyoudi said his country would contribute $5 million to the fund, adding “this initiative allows us to celebrate the invaluable contribution of women entrepreneurs and women led businesses around the world and to recognise the critical role they play in driving economic growth”.

“While women are one half the world’s population, they only contribute 37 per cent to the global GDP,” he said.

Also at the announcement was Saudi Arabian Minister of Commerce Majid al-Kasabi, who called it a “milestone” and said his country was “dedicated” to supporting female empowerment.

Okonjo-Iweala said that in meeting female entrepeneurs, “a common refrain among them is the need for adequate financing to scale their businesses and to tap into the vast opportunities of global trade.”

On Saturday, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, has announced that the UAE will provide a $10 million grant to support a number of key initiatives of the World Trade Organization (WTO), whose 13th Ministerial Conference is being hosted and chaired by the UAE in Abu Dhabi from 26th-29th February.

Sheikh Abdullah said that the grant to be provided by the UAE will be allocated to the Fisheries Funding Mechanism, the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), and the Women Exporters in the Digital Economy (WEIDE) Fund that will be launched during MC13.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed expressed his pride that the UAE is hosting the WTO’s MC13, the organisation’s highest decision-making body, and welcomed all leaders, ministers and representatives of the 166 Member States to Abu Dhabi for crucial negotiations on key trade issues and discussions on how to enhance and modernize the rules of the global trading system.

He also congratulated the Republic of the Comoros and the Republic of Timor-Leste on their accession to the World Trade Organization, which will be officially announced during MC13. He expressed his hope that more countries will be able to join the organization and benefit from the multilateral trading system.

Sheikh Abdullah went on to say that through its Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (CEPA) programme, the UAE is now at the heart of international trade and will continue to expand its economic cooperation with the world. He encouraged representatives of all Member States to display a spirit of collaboration and engage in constructive and meaningful negotiations to modernise the global trading system and help contribute to creating sustainable and inclusive economic growth to raise the standard of living for people throughout the world.

The WTO initiatives that will benefit from the UAE grant are considered to be the organisation’s most important, and are focused on the core goals of making global trade more sustainable and inclusive, especially with regards to Developing and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

The Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) is the only multilateral partnership dedicated exclusively to helping LDCs by working closely with governments, development organisations, civil society, and academia to use trade as an engine for growth, sustainable development, and poverty reduction.

The Fisheries Funding Mechanism Funding Mechanism became operational in November 2022, and aims to provide Member States technical assistance and capacity building in order to implement the rules set out in the agreement on Fisheries Subsidies that was adopted at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference.

The Women Exporters in the Digital Economy (WEIDE) Fund is a joint initiative that will be launched by the World Trade Organization and the International Trade Center (ITC) during MC13. With a budget of $50 million, it aims to leverage digitalisation to boost the competitiveness of and unlock new export markets for women-led businesses.


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