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libyaThrough support from USAID, MEDA is establishing a Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) development program in Libya. Women face numerous obstacles in the business sector, from accessing credit and markets, to cultural restrictions and a lack of business expertise or encouragement for innovation. The SME program offers training in capacity building, coaching and mentoring for women entrepreneurs to better equip them in growing their own businesses.

In a ceremony handing certificates to women participating in the SME program, a Libyan business woman was brought in to give participants an inspirational speech and answer some of their questions during a networking time. The woman's name was Radia Elswei. She graduated in 1992 with a BSc in Pharmacy, and later in 2011 with her MBA. In 1993 Radia worked at a Toxicology Department Control Center, followed by the Quality Control Center at the Al Maya Pharmaceutical Factory. She established the first Microbiology Control Center for medicine in 1995. She attended a number of trainings between 1996 and 1998 in different countries in Europe and the Middle East, then moved back to work on manufacture of semi solid preparations at the Al Maya Pharmaceutical Factory. In 2000 she started a private consultancy in marketing studies where her input was vital in helping to get Pfizer to enter the Libyan private pharmaceutical market. She has taught clinical pharmacy in private institutes since 2002 and established her own company in 2003, officially opening it in 2007 as Alansam Pharmaceutical Company.

New Directions

In 2011 after the war ended Radia opened a new food importing company called DEYMA, dealing mostly in date products, followed shortly in 2012 by a sweets manufacturing company. Later seeing the need to formally address autism in Libya, Radia undertook intensive training in Dubai in 2013 and opened the first autism therapy center in Libya for children on February 28, 2013.

Radia is happily married and lives in Janzour, Libya. She is involved in many charities and her latest role is co-founder of the Women in Business Committee – Tripoli where she is a member of the steering committee. Hearing this story of success, the women participating in the SME development program were inspired to strive for success themselves. Not only has the program been a bonding experience for many of them, it has shown them examples like Radia, encouraging them of the possibilities that exist in the business world for female entrepreneurs.