The fund aims to provide to female entrepreneurs with financial support in the form of capital and access to networking
But the fund could open the President up to charges of hypocrisy
Just two days into President Donald Trump debut foreign trip, a member of his inner-circle has already reaped benefits to the tune of $100 million.
In a sunlit ballroom Sunday morning at the Tuwaiq Palace in Saudi Arabia, Ivanka Trump’s proposed Women Entrepreneurs Fund – a concept she first shared during her own inaugural international trip as first daughter last month to Berlin, Germany – was promised a combined $100 million by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates specifically to help women in the Middle East.
The fund, which will be run by World Bank, not Ivanka Trump, aims to provide to female entrepreneurs with financial support in the form of capital and access to networking and financial markets, something Trump says she anticipates will be important to the future growth of women.
But Saudi Arabia places severe restrictions on women’s rights and participation in society, including prohibitions on driving and finances. The creation of a fund that solicits donations from such countries and is championed by Trump’s daughter, one of Trump’s closest advisers, could open the President up to charges of hypocrisy, saying that the concept is not dissimilar to the Clinton Foundation, which he roundly criticized as a candidate.
The first daughter spoke of the need for transformation at Sunday’s women’s economic empowerment roundtable, which was attended by 15 women, most of them Saudi business and government leaders and entrepreneurs.
“We are living in a pivotal moment in history for women,” she said. “Around the world, women continue to achieve unprecedented levels of rights and freedoms. Today, you all stand on the front lines of the fight for gender equality. You recognize the indisputable truth that empowering women is key to driving economic transformation.”
“Yet in every country, including United States, women and girls face unique challenges that hold them back from full and meaningful participation in all parts of society,” added Trump, who wore a powder blue designer suit; the rest of the women in attendance at the roundtable wore traditional Muslim garb, their hair covered in abayas or scarves, according to reporters traveling with the first family.
Last year, however, Donald Trump bashed the Clinton Foundation for accepting money from countries with human rights issues, implying the move was in direct contrast to the help the foundation was established to provide.
“Saudi Arabia and many of the countries that gave vast amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation want women as slaves and to kill gays,” Trump wrote on Facebook. “Hillary must return all money from such countries!”
During his campaign for president, Trump also tweeted about what he claimed was a “pay-for-play” agreement with countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, who said he first heard about the Women Entrepreneurs Fund when it was pitched to him by Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said the program will only expand.
“We had no idea how quickly this [fund] would build,” said Kim, who added that World Bank would be able to announce at the G-20 summit in July that it has created, with additional donations from the United States and other countries, a fund with a total of $1 billion for women’s economic empowerment. “I really have to say that Ivanka’s leadership has been tremendous.”