About us

Welcoming message from the founder of Ouissal

Dear Ouissal Community and those who want to become one!

According to the United Nations, we still need 131 years (!) to achieve gender equality in the world. Particularly in the Mediterranean and Middle East regions, we still have the second largest gap worldwide in 2022, according to the Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum. But even in Germany, women, mothers and entrepreneurs still face hurdles in their careers. At the same time, we often know little about our respective neighbors and wonder how we can support each other in concrete terms.

More than ten years ago, I initiated the German-Arab mentoring project for female start-up entrepreneurs. Since then, “Ouissal” has had an impact across borders and each of us has set an example for other women with career ambitions. I can’t imagine a more effective, enriching, and encouraging way than to work with intercultural tandems in cross-mentoring across countries. In the meantime, we can include ten countries in the program and advance women’s power without borders!

Therefore, please recommend the program to potential participants – mentor or mentee – from Germany, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine! 

I would already like to thank the many committed volunteer mentors and supporters. I would also like to thank the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Agency for Business & Economic Development (AWE) for their support and many years of excellent cooperation.

Ouissal is only possible thanks to the many great people who participate in it. This includes, in particular, the EMA team. Together we form an international, dynamic powerhouse with diverse expertise and one goal: Together we build bridges for a fair and just future.

Best regards

Clara Gruitrooy
(Secretary General, EMA e.V.)

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Clara Gruitrooy

Secretary General
EMA e.V.

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Euro-Mediterranean-Arab Association EMA

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The EMA is a regional association of the German economy. It is committed to socially and ecologically sustainable cooperation and international understanding between Germany, Europe and the Mediterranean and Middle East regions. To this end, the EMA links decision-makers and multipliers from business, politics and science. This unique network and its cross-border and cross-sector expertise make the EMA an excellent platform and a reliable, sought-after contact for mutual exchange. More about the ethical code of conduct on the basis of which this exchange takes place can be found here: Code of Conduct.

Together with its members and partners, EMA stands for corporate social responsibility (CSR), the advancement of women and young people, and economic development cooperation. EMA’s members are united by their private and corporate commitment to the Mediterranean and Middle East region.

Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development BMZ

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The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is responsible for German development policy within the German government. The framework for the BMZ is provided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement. The focus is on the commitment against poverty and hunger and for healthy people in a healthy environment. The BMZ sees itself as a transformation ministry, advancing the global transformation toward a sustainable, climate- and nature-compatible economy while strengthening peace, freedom and human rights.

German development cooperation has been cooperating with North African countries and the Middle East region for decades. The core themes are geared to long-term challenges: Economic development, energy, water and education. However, since the so-called Arabellion of 2011, the countries have been in upheaval. Political instability, weak economic performance and high unemployment are clouding future prospects in many places, especially for young people.

In response, the BMZ has developed the Africa Strategy with three overarching goals:

  • flank the development goals set by the African Union (AU) and its member states (African Union Agenda 2063) with structural policy approaches);
  • work together on the global transformation towards a dignified, safe life for all in an intact environment (United Nations Agenda 2030);
  • cooperate with the neighboring continent in crises in solidarity and visibility.

Since the upheavals of the Arab rebellion, it has become all the more important to strengthen state structures and support good, citizen-oriented governance. Only in this way can citizens’ trust in the state grow and sustainable stability emerge. At the same time, the economy must be promoted in order to open up new personal perspectives for people – for example, through better job prospects.

The Ouissal program implements this strategy: Promoting sustainable development, peace and economic growth in Africa and the Middle East. Integration of women into the labor market is promoted, which in turn helps to strengthen the economy. At the same time, it contributes to the promotion of intercultural understanding and equal rights.

Agency for Business & Economic Development AWE

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The Agency for Business & Economic Development (AWE) supports the Ouissal program with funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). EMA and AWE collaborate to make the Ouissal program known and accessible through their public relations efforts.


About Us - Ouissal