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Belgian AWA Prize celebrates female entrepreneurship in Jordan

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - Jan 12,2023 - Last updated at Jan 12,2023

Belgian Ambassador to Jordan and Iraq Serge Dickschen speaks during an event celebrating the work of Jordanian participants in the AWA Prize for women entrepreneurs on Thursday (Photo courtesy of Belgian embassy)

AMMAN — The Embassy of Belgium in Amman, in collaboration with the Belgian development agency Enabel, on Thursday held an event celebrating the work of Jordanian participants in the AWA Prize for women entrepreneurs. 

The prize, organised by Enabel, was initiated by Belgium’s Minister of Development Cooperation and Urban Policy Meryame Kitir, according to an Enabel statement made available to The Jordan Times. 

Female entrepreneurs from selected countries in Africa and the Middle East, including Jordan, competed in the prize’s first edition between September and December 2022, the statement said. 

The AWA Prize, which “celebrates the work of women who have a positive impact on their communities through their businesses”, awards 12 female entrepreneurs in four categories: Start-up, scale-up, innovation and people’s choice, the statement added. 

In his opening remarks, Belgian Ambassador to Jordan and Iraq Serge Dickschen stressed the embassy’s commitment to promoting women’s empowerment in all areas, in cooperation with its Jordanian partners.

He said that investing in women’s economic empowerment sets a direct path towards “gender equality as a fundamental human right”. 

The COVID-19 pandemic, which had a disproportionate impact on women worldwide, makes action towards achieving gender equality “more pertinent”, Dickschen noted.

“Gender gaps are counterproductive,” he said, adding that there’s ample evidence demonstrating that enhancing women’s participation in the workforce can significantly boost economic growth.

“Female-lead enterprises generate wider social and economic benefits, not just for the company itself, but for society as a whole,” he continued. 

He also noted that the AWA Prize reflects Belgium’s ambitions to counter the gender gap in women’s economic participation and aims to reward the efforts of women who were able to establish successful businesses “notwithstanding all obstacles”. 

During the event, Resident Representative at Enabel in Palestine and Jordan Christelle Jocquet said that the prize also aims to federate a universal community for female entrepreneurs in Enabel’s partner countries in order to promote the exchange of expertise through roundtables, international forums and workshops. 

The event also featured a discussion led by a number of Jordanian businesswomen who spoke about the opportunities and challenges faced by female entrepreneurs in Jordan, while highlighting potential means to overcome socioeconomic inequalities.

Ghada Khrewesh, a 46-year-old mother of four, participated in the 2022 edition of AWA Prize. During the event, she shared her experience as a leader of a small business with The Jordan Times. 

Fourteen years ago, Khrewesh began attending courses in order to learn how to prepare food that suits the dietary needs of her diabetic son, then 12 years old. 

After acquiring certificates of quality from the Royal Scientific Society (RSS) and the Jordan Food and Drug Administration (JFDA), Khrewesh started a small cooking business at home in 2017.

“The goal is to give diabetic children and their parents access to homemade, affordable and diabetes-friendly meals,” she said. 

Her diabetic son, who is now 26 years old, helps her manage the project’s finances and work towards achieving her dream of opening a restaurant that caters to the needs of people with diabetes. 

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