The bi-annual UN forum on entrepreneurship and innovation concluded its sessions in Bahrain this Thursday, centering on women entrepreneurs from conflict zones such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Sudan, and Gaza. These women emphasized the critical role of investing in their enterprises as a pathway to fostering peace, security, and stability in their regions. The closing session of the 2024 World Entrepreneurship Investment Forum (WEIF) in Manama put these courageous women in the spotlight, showcasing their resilience and determination.

The Stories of Resilience and Challenge

During the panel on ‘Women, Peace and Security’ and subsequent interviews, these entrepreneurs shared their inspiring yet harrowing journeys.Tahani Abu Daqqa, a Palestinian businesswoman from Gaza, highlighted her initiatives in creating job opportunities amidst ongoing conflict. Despite significant challenges, including the destruction of projects like ‘Gaza Life for Renewable Energy‘ before their completion, Abu Daqqa remains committed to her community, even diverting funds meant for her escape to provide immediate shelter for displaced families.

In Sudan, Alaa Hamadto’s enterprise, Solar Food, faced destruction due to conflict, leading to substantial personal and professional losses. Despite these setbacks, Hamadto’s resolve to rebuild and support her community through sustainable practices like solar drying illustrates a profound commitment to resilience.

Economic Empowerment as a Tool for Stability

The forum underscored the potential of entrepreneurial activities by women in conflict zones to contribute not just to their personal and economic empowerment, but also to the broader goals of peace and stability. The stories shared at WEIF 2024 reflect a pressing need for more substantial support and investment in these high-risk areas, which can yield significant returns in terms of community development and conflict resolution.

While the forum celebrated the achievements and spirit of these women, it also brought to light the considerable gaps in international support and infrastructure that hinder their full potential. The recurring theme from the discussions was the inadequacy of current interventions and the urgent need for a more coordinated and substantial global response to empower these entrepreneurs effectively.

The Path Forward

As WEIF 2024 concluded, the voices of these entrepreneurs resonated with a call to the global community for increased support and recognition of their efforts. The forum not only highlighted their challenges but also their crucial role in rebuilding war-torn societies. It is clear from the discussions that empowering women entrepreneurs in conflict zones is not merely an act of economic development but a fundamental strategy for sustainable peace and security.