Successful female entrepreneurs in Yemen

06.03.2017 – 8 March is International Women’s Day. Gender equality is the key to sustainable development – even in crisis regions such as Yemen.

Women’s employment and participation in society play a key role in reducing poverty and permanently ending social and political instability. With support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, around half a million women worldwide entered the workplace between 2010 and 2015 and 15,000 women displaced by crisis and war gained access to vocational training and education.

In Yemen, armed conflict and financial insecurity dominate many women’s lives. Even before the war broke out in 2015, social convention made it difficult for women to find work, and the situation has now worsened, with many unable to travel at all, even to the nearest town. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ is therefore providing support for female entrepreneurs in Yemen – no easy task in the current tense security situation.

Together with Yemen’s Small and Micro-enterprises Promotion Agency (SMEPS), various digital business advice services have been developed and can now be accessed by female entrepreneurs regardless of their location. Coaching via WhatsApp, for instance, is helping more than 600 female entrepreneurs, including 200 internally displaced persons, to make a success of their businesses despite the current challenges.

By improving their receivables management and pricing systems, more than 100 women have substantially increased their revenue streams. The business coaching has particularly benefited 80 of the country’s private midwives: since April 2016, they have recruited 120 other women – and have more than tripled their own and their new employees’ incomes.

Since last October, 80 women in eastern Yemen have acquired e-business skills and are now fulfilling orders for replacement components or marketing their wedding cakes on Facebook or Viber, a free chat app. What’s more, around 140 women have attended start-up training and set up their own small businesses. Among them are three sisters, Manal, Maha and Marwa Haj Humran, who opened a wedding dress company in 2016 and are now employing other women on short-term contracts.