the vice presidency for Women & Family Affairs Isalmic Republic Of Iran

A Speech given by Fariba Ebtehaj, the Vice President's Media Consultant, at the International Forum on the Development of Women's Entrepreneurship in Baku

Tuesday 25 June 2019 - 15:40

During a meeting that was held on June 20 with participants from the region and CIS countries in Baku, Azerbaijan's capital with representatives of state bodies, international organizations, business organizations, and civil societies of different countries, Fariba Ebtehaj, media consultant to the Vice President for Women and Family Affairs presented her speech which can be found below:

In the name of Allah

Dear Audience, Dear Entrepreneurs

What I present is in fact a report from a recent perspective on female entrepreneurship in the Islamic Republic of Iran, an experience that links the people and civil society to female entrepreneurs.

Successful entrepreneurship is a mode of social and economic life in which the general interest of the people as well as that of the entrepreneur is realized to a certain extent. In this sense, the more the entrepreneur benefits the people of the community in terms of their economic activity, from creating employment to high quality, healthy and efficient products for them, the higher their prosperity. The realization of this two-way profit system, of course, requires the provision of social and economic contexts, and the greater the challenges, the more difficult it is to achieve.

Iranian women and girls, who have proved their perseverance and talent for many years in different areas such as education, science and society, are now also considered as important potentialities of the Iranian society in entrepreneurship. They are increasingly active in urban and rural communities in the country, despite facing a number of challenges, particularly because of the outrageous American sanctions against Iran.

In this context, by relying on the people, attracting their attention, and having their participation can help in overcoming the challenges. How? By informing the local community about the common interests that can exist between the entrepreneur and the people, and this awareness has now created a new perspective and experience in supporting Iranian women's entrepreneurship.

The Vice Presidency for Women and Family Affairs in Iran has made a new experience with this goal. This Vice Presidency launched a Women's Entrepreneurship Online Poll in March 2019, in order to create a way for urban and rural communities to get to know their local entrepreneurs and try to increase their local entrepreneur’s success.

Creating the right social conditions for an entrepreneur and being seen can undoubtedly help them have access to facilities ad possibilities. Entrepreneurs who were enrolled in this poll had to introduce themselves to the community in order to win more votes, and for a significant number of them, this introduction was happening for the first time. Now, the entrepreneur has to practice to introduce themselves in order to be seen and for economic activity, and the local community feels that they can contribute to the progress of those entrepreneurs’ businesses.

The brochure that has been given to you contains 20 entrepreneurs who won the most votes in the Vice Presidency for Women and Family Affairs online poll in the cities and villages of Iran and were introduced on May 1 on International Worker’s Day. Among them, Mrs. Nasim Tavakol is present at this meeting today and can share her experience with you.

This competition continues with the arrival of new entrepreneurs to this system, so that even in the furthest villages and cities of Iran women's entrepreneurship is considered as a social and economic value among the people.

In line with this activity, a social media campaign is set up by a group of women entrepreneurs entitled "Women of the Generation of Sanctions" to declare that women will stand against economic threats, and as they are pillars of their families, they will try to boost the economy. The motto of this campaign is, "Those who lose hope will never win." By gradually introducing women entrepreneurs to this campaign, media outlets will seek them out and ask them to tell of their experiences.

Hania Salehpur, a young female entrepreneur who went from Tehran to Sistan Baluchestan in southeastern Iran, said, "We have learned to tackle obstacles head on by looking for solutions; we have learned when there is a barrier blocking our path, we have to look for another way. Even dead ends cannot stop us."

The Vice Presidency for Women and the Family There takes part in other activities, along the lines of the law and in pursuit of gender equity indicators, which also help to strengthen the entrepreneurship of women and encourage them to enter fields such as the following:

- Implementing an agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture Jihad to empower female farmers' in producing organic goods

- Supporting rural women's microfinance funds

- Implementing the "My Business Plan" for entrepreneurship education for women and girls in 31 provinces

- Women's Entrepreneurship Workshops on Resistive Economy

- Implementing the Women's Economic Empowerment Plan for female heads of household in informal settlements in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior

- Cooperating with the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labour, and Social Welfare to empower the 6,000 female household heads

Moreover, since recently in Iran, the number of educated women and girls has increased significantly, and as a result, more women are now seeking work in different fields, all related governmental organizations are taking measures to strengthen businesses. Such measures include supporting startups and activities that can lead to new technology, home-based businesses, and small and medium sized businesses. Also, the provision of facilities for women in this area has increased, as, for example, 42% of the bank's facilities for villages have been allocated to rural women in the past year.

The most important of these measures are the actions taken by the Ministry of Agriculture Jihad:

In this ministry, women's entrepreneurship development involves capacity building and institutionalization as a prerequisite for work. Women first get acquainted with the concepts of facilitating, participating, and life skill jobs in the capacity building process. Then, they create local microfinance funds, and their small savings are aggregated and placed on a larger scale to be used in production activities.

In the next step, they write their career plans and submit their products to the market through commercialization.

Various stages of entrepreneurship education at the Ministry of Agriculture Jihad are based on the LNSIE model (L: Life Skill Job, N: Knowledge Business, S: Startup Business, I: Improve Business, E: Expand Business).

Other measures taken by the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology of Iran are as follows:

The modern communication technologies have provided different societies, especially the vulnerable strata, with new opportunities for production without any temporal and spatial limitation and the result has benefited women. The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology of Iran (ICT) has carried out a national project known as "Woman's Empowerment through ICT" in more than 240 regions, through which women have learned to present their products through cyberspace platforms in virtual markets. Moreover, the marketing and advertising policies and methods have been taught to women. In this way, women's part in business activities has increased and considerable advances have been reached in "Gender Justice" and "Balance Development" in rural areas and cities for Digital Economy access.

Fortunately, among these efforts, we have reports that women have been more successful than men in setting up businesses and attaining business outcomes.

Thanks to the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Government Committee for Women and Mrs. Hijran Hoseynava for this important summit, I convey warm greetings to the Iranian female activists, especially the female entrepreneurs, and welcome them to this gathering.






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