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BWF-Palestine participate in Milan Expo 2015

As part of the regional project “Promoting Economic Empowerment of Women through Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development in the MENA Region” implementedby BWF with the support of UNIDO and the partnership and sponsorship of the Palestinian Ministry of National Economy, a business trip was organized for twenty businesswomen, BWF’s management, and representatives of the Project National Team in Palestine to visit Milan Italy.

The delegation was headed by BWF’s Board members: Manal Zraiq, Samira Hulaileh, and Rima Arafat, and BWF’s Executive Director Doa Wadi.  Eleven female entrepreneurs were part of the delegation with a partial contribution of Palestine Market Development Program (PMDP) which allowed a larger group of female entrepreneurs to get this opportunity.  The businesswomen represented various sectors: construction, stone and marble, real estate, handicrafts in the field of food processing, jewelry, accessories, embroidery, leather, and footwear from Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah and Jerusalem noting that businesswomen from Gaza Strip could not participate due to the closure and checkpoints.

The business trip that was organized with the support of UNIDO and Palestine Market Development Program (PMDP), that is funded by the British Department for International Development and the European Union, aimed at networking women entrepreneurs with female and male investors from different world countries, Middle East, and North Africa, facilitating their access the global market and the exchange of technical expertise, and accessing to technology and work methods of product development.

The Palestine Market Development Program (PMDP) has supported eleven businesswomen to attend the Milan Expo by cost sharing so the businesswomen become able to network with different entities, in addition to visiting different companies and factories; which played a major role in increasing the number of businessmen and women entrepreneur participants in the Expo.  It is worth mentioning that one of the objectives of the Program is to assist the Palestinian businesswomen to be able to enter new markets and improve their competitiveness.

The business trip included also a unique participation of Palestine in the International Conference "Empowering women economically in the Middle East and North Africa", which included discussion panels of work papers on the reality of women business owners and entrepreneurs in the MENA Region focusing on the six participating countries (Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Morocco).  Ms. Doa Wadi participated as a keynote speaker on the reality of Palestine women entrepreneurs and businesswomen at the policy level, networking, ability to access to capital, business development opportunities, and other relevant issues.  Furthermore Ms. Wadi participated in the recommendations meeting and the drafting of the final statement of the conference.

The conference witnessed an international attention and official presence from the Palestinian side at the highest level by the Ambassador of Palestine to Italy, Ms. Mai Keileh, and a number of representatives of the Palestinian diplomatic mission.

The trip included also a series of bilateral meetings between women business owners and entrepreneurs from Palestine and different countries of the world participating in the Milan Expo 2015, in which the Palestinian entrepreneurs managed to attract a group of investors from the region and the world through initial agreements, discussions to develop a partnership on the long run, as well as discussing developmental ideas of the current projects of the women to bring them to the level of global competition.

In terms of the acquaintance of the technology used, raw materials, and work methods, a series of field visits were organized for the business women to workshops and factories related to their work and businesses, in particular in the sectors of: food industry, textiles, jewelry, and accessories; thus, helping Palestinian women business owners and entrepreneur participants to open new horizons for their projects and identify areas of development, through what has been viewed and learned during the visits.

It is worth mentioning that the Project “Promoting Economic Empowerment of Women through Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development in the MENA Region” is implemented by BWF in partnership with UNIDO, Palestinian Ministry of National Economy, and five of businesswomen organizations and forums in the Middle East and North Africa Region.  BWF launched the Project officially in Palestine in July 2015 with an official presence of UNIDO and partners and players on the national level who participated in nominating the businesswomen to participate in Milan Expo 2015.

The participants praised the business trip as it opened prospects for development and networking opportunities to access global markets.

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