WTO chief launches $50 mln fund for female entrepreneurs in developing world

The director-general of the World Trade Organization, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Sunday launched a $50 million fund to help female entrepreneurs 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 recognize the critical role they play in driving economic growth.”

“While women are one half the world’s population, they only contribute 37 percent 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.”

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