Yemen: No business as usual – strengthen Yemeni Business Women in times of war

Since 2015, Yemen is in a full-blown armed conflict with men and women struggling to nourish themselves and their children. Due to the security situation the Private Sector Development Project (PSDP) is fully implemented in the Business Continuity Management modus, with only national GIZ staff working in Yemen and internationals supporting from abroad. Even before the war, women had limited access to economic opportunities and education, due to cultural and political norms. According to World Bank data, before the war in 2015, just over 25% of Yemeni women were economically active; the majority of women who do work are employed in the agricultural sector. Lots of women in rural areas are excluded from the public sphere. Their movements are limited to private houses and fields. Despite all these opstacles PSDP, implemented on behalf of BMZ, succeeded in empowering Yemeni women, in cooperation with its partners Small and Micro Enterprise Promotion Services (SMEPS), the Chambers of Commerce, NGOs and private sector companies.

As the challenges businesswomen face are diverse, approaches were developed for different target-groups.
Target group 1: Support Business Women Start-Ups Between June 2013 and December 2015, 190 women were trained on how to develop a business idea and to set-up their own business.
Target group 2: Support existing companies in crisis to become more resilient in times of war 300 businesswomen (such as dentists, trade-owners, etc.), receive consultancy on demand via social media (WhatsApp) by six consultants, helping them to stay in business. Also 200 male and female employers currently are supported to keep up their business in order to safeguard jobs.
Target group 3: Qualify young unemployed women in three cities and help them to generate income 1.330 women benefitted from qualification measures organized in cooperation with the private sector. 70% managed to increase their income afterwards, working now in fields such as mobile phone repair or plumbing.
Target group 4: Create income opportunities for rural women with limited freedom of movement The project supports sectors with good potential for home-based work. Supporting the basketry value-chain: The lead marketing company was supported to exhibit and sell hand-made quality products at exhibitions in Germany. Afterwards they independently managed to serve clients’ orders from overseas, even in times of heavy war. This ensures income opportunities for 300 poor women in remote rural areas.

A key impact is the improvement of economic participation of women in Yemen. In the basketry sector, men took over the role of door-openers and enablers. The Chambers of Commerce were supported in installing Business Women Departments, which are valuable implementing partners today. 138 women participating in start-up courses managed to open up a business. The public image of businesswomen is improved and families are more willing to support them. The partner SMEPS was supported to setup a gender-sensitive M&E system.

PSDP has received the national prize for “promoting business women in Yemen 2014” by the Yemeni Businesswomen Union.


Sandra Doempke
Private Sector Development Project Yemen

The competition entry ”No business as usual – strengthen Yemeni Business Women in times of war from GIZ Yemen can be downloaded here:

29 Yemen: No business as usual – strengthen Yemeni Business Women in times of war_ Gender Competition 2016

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