Al-Mahrouq: The great interest of the banking sector in the issue of women’s empowerment was a key driver for signing the agreement between ABJ and the ILO.
Aslan: The business clinic came as a result of a trip with kindergarten owners that began during the pandemic due to the importance of this care sector in preserving women’s work and supporting their families. “We listened to them, planned and moved together to find solutions.”
Jaafar: The clinic aimed to support the flexibility and financial sustainability of kindergarten owners through the implementation of interventions that include technical and financial support.
On Tuesday, February 28, 2023, ABJ and ILO launched the outputs of the Business Clinic project, which was established under a partnership agreement between the two sides and was implemented through the Association of Banking Experts.

The launch ceremony, which was held at the association’s headquarters, was attended by Her Excellency Eng. Maha Al-Ali, Secretary General of the National Committee for Women’s Affairs, Her Excellency Mr. Espen Lindbäck, the Norwegian Ambassador to Jordan, and Her Excellency Mrs. Alexandra Redmark, the Swedish Ambassador to Jordan, in addition to representatives of the Ministry of Education, the Social Security Corporation, and the Ministry of Labor, the kindergarten sector and a number of women’s associations and events in the Kingdom.

Certificates and financial grants were distributed to kindergarten owners who received training in the business clinic. The ceremony also included a discussion between the attendees and the kindergarten owners about the benefits they achieved from joining the clinic. Many questions were raised related to the mechanism of the clinic’s operation and ways of sustaining it in order to serve a larger number of small companies owned by women and in various other sectors.

It is noteworthy that the launch of the business clinic came in light of the increasing challenges faced by kindergarten owners in addition to the lack of solutions or initiatives supporting them in those circumstances, which prompted the ILO to conclude an agreement with ABJ to launch the project.

The business clinic was able, over a period of about six months, to rehabilitate and assist (24) kindergarten owners, who benefited from all the provided technical and financial services to support the sustainability of these kindergartens which employ 110 caregivers and serve about 720 children.

Dr. Maher Al-Mahrouq said that the banking sector in Jordan is supportive of increasing the rates of women’s participation in the economy. The work environment in banks is also considered one of the most attractive ones for female work, as women constitute about 35% of the total number of employees. Based on this, ABJ signed a partnership agreement with the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Al-Mahrouq added that this clinic is one of three axes agreed upon with ILO providing support for the flexibility and financial sustainability of kindergarten owners by providing them with financial and technical support to raise their ability to manage their businesses, through the Business Clinic – BC, whose outputs are launched today indicating that the business clinic succeeded in providing technical training and financial support.

Al-Mahrouq said that, as a continuation of the efforts made, ABJ recently signed an agreement with the United Nations Women (UN Women), which aims to pursue work on the three axes that were mentioned in a way that contributes to intensifying the efforts made in these areas. He expressed his thanks to ILO for its efforts and cooperation with the association and also thanked the embassies of Norway and Sweden for their great support which had a significant impact on the progress made.

For her part, Reem Aslan, Decent Work Programs Officer for Women at the ILO Regional Office, said that women-owned companies face many challenges including financial ones. She added that the Corona pandemic showed the fragility of the financial situation of many women owned companies, especially in the kindergarten sector, which was greatly affected by the pandemic. This made it unable to face its financial obligations, and these institutions became threatened with closure and exit from the market. She indicated that these repercussions carried serious concerns in light of the decisive social impact of the sector as one of the most important caring ones that employ women who are already struggling to enter the labor market.

Aslan added that the clinic came in light of the work with kindergarten owners in Jordan due to the Corona pandemic, which resulted in the formation of a national committee of kindergarten owners to unify the discourse, which the ILO networked and communicated its voice to many government agencies. She said that the efforts made in advance were not sufficient to ensure the sustainability of these kindergartens since this sector is considered a fragile one and needs more support. Aslan noted that the establishment of the business clinic came in partnership with ABJ and the United Nations Women’s Organization as well as in partnership with the Government of Norway and the Government of Sweden.

Osama Jaafar from the Association of Banking Experts and one of the business clinic consultants confirmed that the clinic aimed to support the flexibility and financial sustainability of kindergarten owners by implementing interventions that include technical support such as programs to raise financial and administrative knowledge and prepare work plans in addition to financial support for beneficiaries to help them pay part of the financial obligations accumulated due to the Corona pandemic. Jaafar indicated that the business clinic implemented the targeted intervention in four main stages including the preparation stage, the study stage, initial evaluation and field visits, training and development of action plans, and the follow-up and evaluation.

Rawan Abu Azzam, a kindergarten owner and one of the beneficiaries said, “The clinic helped us as kindergarten owners to refine and develop our administrative and financial skills and provided us with important knowledge to manage our business in an innovative way.” She also expressed her thanks to the ILO, ABJ and the Association of Banking Experts for providing this important initiative, which had the greatest impact in helping kindergarten owners to overcome the challenges imposed by the Corona pandemic.

It is noteworthy that banks in Jordan play a major role in the economic empowerment of women by providing products, bank accounts, credit cards dedicated to women and launching many initiatives aimed at enhancing the economic empowerment of women such as supporting women-owned projects, supporting local employment for women, establishing Services Centers and support for institutions and associations concerned with women. Women constitute 36% of the number of depositors in banks and 21% of the number of borrowers.

Based on the interest of the banking sector in women empowerment, ABJ signed a partnership agreement with the ILO targeting three main axes: the first is to increase the percentage of women in leadership positions and decision-making positions in banks through the launch of the AllonBoard platform. .jo), which is a database of women who have the appropriate experience, qualifications, competencies and sufficient training to occupy senior positions which constitutes a link between banks and women’s expertise and facilitates the process of marketing these competencies and attracting them by banks so as to enhance the percentage of women’s participation in boards of directors and senior management positions. The official announcement of the launch of the platform was made last October under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah. The second axis aimed to raise financial awareness among women and youth, through the launch of a digital platform for financial awareness (FINAP), which includes educational and introductory materials about banking, finance and economics to build awareness and promote financial culture among various groups especially women and youth. The third axis aimed at launching the business clinic who the outputs were announced during the ceremony.

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