The number of women entrepreneurs in Lebanon and Palestine is relatively low, with the majority of women-owned businesses operating in the informal sector and mainly in rural areas. Facing challenges such as cultural constraints and a lack of access to training and financial services, these women struggle to participate in the formal economy. In Lebanon, only 10.1% of women are self-employed, whilst Palestinian women own just 5.4% of all enterprises in the West Bank and Gaza strip.
Following on from the success of our Nablus Women Entrepreneurs and Lebanon Women Entrepreneurs projects, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women launched a project in 2012 – in partnership with the Oak Foundation and Tomorrow’s Youth Organization – to support women entrepreneurs to grow their micro and small businesses across the Northern West Bank in Palestine and the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
The two-year project supported a total of 80 women entrepreneurs, offering a combination of skills-based training, coaching and intensive business incubation. The scheme also enhanced women’s access to financial products and services by establishing strong relationships with local financial institutions. A key focus of this initiative has been to foster knowledge sharing and best practice between women entrepreneurs across Lebanon and Palestine.
Ultimately, this project has increased women’s confidence, improved their business and financial management skills, and facilitated their access to market data. As these women’s businesses have expanded, they have driven job creation in their local communities and thus improved the quality of life both within and beyond their own households.
‘We are proud to support this project. Increasing women’s roles in the Palestinian and Lebanese economies will increase the capability, confidence and access to capital for women in these regions.’
– Oak Foundation
Tomorrow’s Youth Organization is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that works in disadvantaged areas of the Middle East, enabling children, youth and parents to realise their potential as healthy, active and responsible family and community members.
Oak Foundation is a group of philanthropic organisations which, since its establishment in 1998, has given more than 2,700 grants to not-for-profit organisations around the world. Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged.