In partnership with the Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion Service (SMEPS), Yemen’s national agency promoting small and micro enterprises and a subsidiary of the Social Fund for Development, the ILO developed an entrepreneurship development training programme in Arabic tailored to women entrepreneurs in Yemen, entitled “Women Do Business” which is based on the existing Get Ahead and SIYB programmes.
A training-of-trainers workshop targeting women trainers from four national training institutes was delivered. This was followed by a number of training workshops targeting existing and potential Yemeni women entrepreneurs to help them access microfinance.
When the conflict erupted it became very difficult to reach women entrepreneurs in many geographical areas of Yemen. To overcome this challenge an online intervention supported by GIZ was launched in support of selected businesswomen who had already taken part of the Women Do Business Programme, to help them develop their own business plans and start or develop their businesses. The services provided relied exclusively on Internet-based means of communication, for example WhatsApp, a popular smartphone App for texting individuals and groups.
WhatsApp group sessions involving 10-14 women were organized to discuss business challenges and receive training from a female consultant, as well as peer-to-peer advice. The BDS were provided over the course of one month and focused on improving financial skills, business continuity capacities, and managerial skills. Since the intervention is implemented via the Internet, each WhatsApp group includes participants from various geographical areas. The majority of beneficiaries in the pilot phase were midwives and some were dentists.