Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability (WES): Celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week

Zina Ammar grew up in Gafsa, Tunisia, where she learned how to make the region’s famous Margoum carpets from the women in her family. Zina eventually started her own carpet-making business, but her lack of confidence and business skills limited her success. Hoping to grow her business, Zina enrolled in Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Financial Education trainings at the Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability (WES) Center for Women’s Business Development in her community.

Through the WES Center, Zina learned how to manage her business finances, develop a business plan, and communicate better with clients. She also gained access to a network of other women entrepreneurs with whom she could share ideas and gain support. WES supported Zina to secure funding to improve the quality of her materials and equipment, which in turn provided the revenue she needed to hire more staff and register her business in the formal sector. Zina, who never left home because she was so shy, now goes to the souk every week, manages her own company, and employs 15 people, including her husband! To see Zina at work in her studio, watch this WES video.

WES transformed my life. I used to be afraid of crossing the road alone; now I do all this on my own. I do not have hesitation anymore. I forgot what fear meant. – Zina Ammar

Zina is one of the many entrepreneurs WES supports who are contributing to their local economies, and being agents of change in their communities. Entrepreneurship is increasingly recognized as an important factor for economic growth and development across the globe. This is of significant importance in Tunisia, where only one in four women university-graduates is active in the labor market.

Through a variety of programs, the Institute of International Education (IIE) is committed to supporting individuals to create new ideas and build innovative businesses that can positively impact economies and address local and global challenges. This week marks the eighth annual Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. WES joins 1,000s around the world in celebrating entrepreneurship this week by recognizing the more than 300 women entrepreneurs we have supported to launch and expand businesses in Tunisia and the important role of women entrepreneurs to positively impact economies and communities.

WES is funded by the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) of the U.S. Department of State and administered by IIE. Learn more about the WES program and how it supports women entrepreneurs by visiting the WES program website.