WiB-panel discussion on World Women´s Day in French Embassy

“How can women in Africa and the Middle East countries benefit from the experience of their European counterparts?” was at the core of the high level panel on March 6th, 2017 in the French embassy.Business women from well and less developed areas of the world and the senior political advisor of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and development (BMZ), Ms Daniela Zehentner-Capell, were present. Monica Carcó, WiB member and an executive of UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Vienna) lead the discussion. Among the attendees of this WiB event were members as well as experts.

H.E. and host, Ambassador Philippe Etienne, gave opening remarks, followed by H.E Ambassador Elyes Kasri from Tunesia. Both spoke about the efforts of their respective governments to prepare the grounds for better education for women. Monica Carcó presented the results of a 15 year-long UNIDO study of 1,200 women college graduates in MENA countries. The result is not encouraging; unemployment rate is at 50%. How can unemployment among this large group be reduced and how can women be profitably integrated into the business cycle?

Fatoumata Ba from Nigeria and Maha Abu Shousheh from Palestine met Elisabeth Hintermann, a successful businesswoman from the rather remote Bavarian Forest area. All three talked about their personal backgrounds as well as careers and personal business models (from start-up to inherited company) and how they were able to create their businesses in their respective home countries. They mentioned difficulties and personal stumbling blocks which, interestingly enough, seemed to show similarities in all three countries: Access to credit markets, personal inhibitions to overcome an economic risk and the competence (skills) to create/write/develop a business plan. And last but not least: To believe in its own ability to be successful!

All ladies present underlined the importance of networks. Since this is also Willkommen in Berlin´s main goal, this afternoon at the same time proved its purpose and presented an ideal networking opportunity.