Bank of Palestine, in partnership with the International Finance Corporation, and in collaboration with the Business Women Forum and the world renowned auditing and consulting firm Ernst and Young, celebrated the graduation of the second cohort of women who participated in the Felestineya Mini MBA Program. The program was especially designed to advance the administrative and professional skills of Palestinian women entrepreneurs, advance their work and leadership abilities by developing their skills in the fields of strategic and financial planning, marketing, and human resource management, to name a few. The program also aims to develop leadership among women through the best Palestinian trainers.
36 women were selected from areas around Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza to participate in the program that was held over a period of six months. The Felestineya Mini MBA Program contributed to improving the capacities of the women to advance their work mechanisms, products, and services, by modifying their business models, enhancing their market knowledge and ability to communicate. The program also establish links with specialized managers and employees from Bank of Palestine who would assist them in developing their projects and obtaining all the banking support, services, consultations and products they need.
The graduation ceremony was held on January 11, 2018, at the main headquarters of Bank of Palestine in Ramallah, joined by a video conference with an audience at Level Up restaurant in Gaza City. The ceremony took place in the presence of Mr. Hashim Al Shawa, Chairman of the Bank of Palestine Group; Mr. Azzam Al Shawa, Governor of the Palestine Monetary Authority; Dr. Haifa Al Agha, Minister of Women’s Affairs; Mr. Yousef Habesch, Representative of the International Finance Corporation in Palestine; Mr. Saed Abdullah, Representative of Ernst and Young; Ms. Doa Wadi, the Executive Director of the Palestinian Business Women Forum; and Mr. Buraq Nabulsi, Director General of the Palestinian Capital Market Authority. Alongside, also attending were leaders from the private sector, civil society and women’s organizations, in addition to journalists and media persons.
Mr. Hashim Al Shawa stressed the importance of the Felestineya Mini MBA Program being that it is the first program of its kind that was designed in partnership with the International Finance Corporation especially for women owners of small and medium sized enterprise to support and expand their projects. Al Shawa stated that the bank selected the best trainers in Palestine and established partnerships with organizations such as Ernst and Young and the Business Women Forum. The results achieved by the program the past two years encouraged the International Finance Corporation to promote the program among numerous banks around the world and encourage its implementation. Al Shawa pointed out that 2017 witnessed the graduation of a unique cohort of 36 women whose businesses varied from food and agricultural production, to engineering services, commerce, education, handicrafts and the beauty sector, and their projects managed to generate 172 job opportunities.
Ms. Haifa Al Agha, the Minister of Women’s Affairs at the Palestinian Authority, stated that the economy forms the main pillar for building a Palestinian state, and the participation of both males and females in the economy is an important indicator for measuring the development and advancement of any society. Al Agha pointed out that Palestinian women continue to play a major and important role in promoting culture, defending the nation and overcoming all life challenges and obstacles.
Mr. Yousef Habesch, Representative of the International Finance Corporation in Palestine, stated that the IFC established its partnership with the bank in 2008, based on a joint vision to develop the Palestinian economy, whether through funding large projects such as the Felestineya Mini MBA Program for women entrepreneurs. Habesch also stated that studies have shown how the effective role played by women in the economy of the Middle East have increased the Gross Domestic Product in the said region by approximately 11%.
Mr. Azzam Al Shawa, the Governor of the Palestine Monetary Authority, stressed the conformity of the Felestineya Mini MBA Program initiative with the policies and strategies of the Palestinian Monetary Authority to empower women economically creating a favorable environment, and promoting financial and banking awareness campaigns and developing specialized programs to build the capacities businesswomen and entrepreneurs.
The Governor stressed that the Palestine Monetary Authority developed its automated systems to be able to collect and analyze gender-based financial and demographic data, which allowed it to identify the existing gap in the financial awareness levels between men and women, which reached 20%, and discuss this problem in the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion document. The Governor called upon all banks and lending institutions to restructure their future financial policies in a manner that responds to the next stages of financing by preparing funding programs that include products that target women, especially owners of micro, small, and medium sized enterprise.
Several participants in the Felestineya Mini MBA Program talked about their experiences and the added-value of the program in terms of new expertise that contributed to developing their projects and allowing them to achieve success. The management of Bank of Palestine and partner organizations distributed certificates on participants and honored both program graduates and stakeholders.
To learn more about Felestineya Programs click here.