Speech of Mr. Stein Hansen, UNDP Resident Representative a.i., during a press conference for the launch of The Women Economic Empowerment Incubator

05 Feb 2013

Good afternoon,

I am very pleased to announce today the official launch of the Al-Salam Enterprise Development Unit in South Surra, which will take place on 10 February at the South Surra premises. This project is a joint initiative of UNDP Kuwait and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, aimed at increasing women’s participation in the economic development and private sector growth of Kuwait.

The Economic Development Unit, also known as an Entrepreneur Incubator, is designed to support Kuwaiti women to establish and manage their own micro, small and medium-sized businesses. The Incubator provides the physical infrastructure required to establish a small business, through the refurbishment of the premises in South Surra, and supports the development of the technical skills and expertise the entrepreneurs will need to launch, manage and develop sustainable businesses.

Evidence from around the world demonstrates that small and medium enterprises play a vital role in the economic development of industrialised nations, and we aim to contribute to this development here in Kuwait through the successful implementation of this project. UNDP and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour have targeted women entrepreneurs in an effort to overcome some of the barriers to women’s participation in the private sector workforce. It is anticipated that in the future, these women will be themselves job creators and champions of women’s economic empowerment

The Al-Salam Incubator is the output of a project first set in motion by UNDP and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour in 2010. Over the past three years, UNDP has worked closely with the Ministry at all stages of establishing the incubator, identifying some 50 women entrepreneurs and providing training in order to assist them to establish their own businesses. The project runs a holistic package of enterprise development tools and techniques in order to support Kuwaiti women to reach their individual potential as successful entrepreneurs. The small businesses that will be operated in the Al-Salam Incubator reflect the dynamism of the private sector in Kuwait and in particular the individual spirit and personality of the remarkable women participating in the programme. The businesses range from software applications and media to traditional handicrafts and catering.

A dedicated team of trainers and a business counselling unit were created within the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor.  Training was conducted in Kuwait and Bahrain, in cooperation with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Under the leadership of the steering committee appointed within the Ministry, these trainers and business counsellors will continue to accelerate the delivery of the project and ensure its lasting contribution to promoting women’s participation in the Kuwaiti private sector.

The incubator will be formally launched at its premises in South Surra on Sunday, 10 February. I do look forward to seeing you at the launch and presenting to you this exciting new chapter in women’s active participation in the Kuwaiti economy.