Ladies first at Global Entrepreneurship Summit
The fifth edition of the Global Entrepreneurial Summit (GES) kicked off Tuesday in Marrakech with the first day dedicated to female entrepreneurs which coincided with the International Day of Women Entrepreneurs amid tight security measures.
More than 500 female participants from across the globe took part in GES in order to exchange their ideas and expertise in setting up and managing businesses.
Miriem Bensalah Chaqroun, chairwoman of the General Confederation of Enterprises of Morocco (Confederation Generale Des Entreprises Marocaines), launched the Summit by paying a tribute to women entrepreneurs.
"Our goal today is to engage women and men worldwide to pledge their support to women entrepreneurs or to a reason to support their community with talent. Although the share of women entrepreneurs is still below our aspirations, there is no doubt that the trends of the last decade show a paradigm shift in women's participation,” Bensalah Chaqroun said.
She also highlighted the major challenges facing women in the Middle East, including education and acceptance in the market, noting that Morocco has the potential and means to lead the region in women entrepreneurship thanks to its modern banking system and reforms.
However, Moroccan minister of solidarity Bassima Hakkaoui, noted that funding was the greatest challenge facing women entrepreneurs.
“Financial institutions are very reluctant to fund women’s free enterprises, which discourages many of them to set up the businesses,” said Hakkaoui.
US Secretary of State for Trade Penny Pritzker talked about the economic benefits of women’s engagement in free enterprise, the challenges facing female entrepreneurs, and US efforts to bolster women business leaders globally in opening remarks.
“too often women lack access to funding, training, information and communication technologies in order to launch start-ups and grow their businesses,” Pritzer told the packed audience, calling for the business culture of not accepting failure in one venture and starting another to change in many parts of the world.
“We want all entrepreneurs, especially women to have the same support structure. When you succeed, societies change for the better,” she tweeted.
The first day sought to bring together women entrepreneurs from around the world to exchange and share their knowledge and experience in business and shed light on some of their success stories.
“The Summit is an opportunity to introduce Moroccan women’s role in contributing to the development of Morocco’s economy,” said Mbarka Bouaida, Morocco’s Deputy Foreign Minister.
“The development of any nation cannot be achieved without involving women in various sectors,” Bouaida added.
Participants benefitted from “Mentoring” sessions which were supervised by CEOs and international experts while Business-to-Business meetings were held in order to explore opportunities for business partnership and development.
A Live Pitch Session was held for women entrepreneurs to give a 2-3 minute pitch of their business to top-notch judges who provided feedback at the end of each round.
The top winners from each round were selected to compete in the final pitching competition for more than $10,000 in prizes and support opportunities.