About the Author: Ralph Falzone serves as Director of the Middle East Partnership Initiative Regional Office in Abu Dhabi.
The Kuwait Economic Society (KES), a civil society organization focused on economic development and reform of the country, kicked off its MEPI-funded local grant project, “Women's Leadership and Entrepreneurship,” in June 2010. The goal of this women's empowerment initiative is to create a more enabling trade, investment, and business environment for Kuwaiti women. The project also aims to increase private sector capacity by promoting and supporting women entrepreneurs by catalyzing the Women's Entrepreneurship Development Project, an already established KES program. The initiative will also support Kuwaiti women engaged in small and medium-sized and home-based businesses by providing opportunities for business growth, networking, training, and experience sharing.
U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait Deborah K. Jones stated at the inauguration of the Women's Leadership and Entrepreneurship Program: “Since its inception in 2002, the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) has invested more than half of its funding in projects with a focus on advancing women's participation in the political process, providing access to educational opportunities, and increasing the role and profile of women in the private sector and public office. We believe the sustained development and prosperity of the Middle East is dependent on the empowerment of women to participate fully in the economic, social and political sectors of society -- and this is an area where Kuwait leads the region.”
On behalf of KES, Dr. Rola Dashti stated that, “85% of Kuwaiti women are unemployed though they have good qualifications…encouraging women to start their own businesses is part of the solution to this problem, and civil society should contribute to creating an enabling environment for women's entrepreneurship.” MEPI is committed to supporting women entrepreneurs in the country and the region, and will continue to seek out opportunities to increase women's capacity and knowledge.