The Role of Waqf-Based Microfinance on Women's Empowerment: Qualitative Evidence of Egypt During COVID-19

ABSTRACT: The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively the Egyptian economy and dramatically slow microfinancing programs for women empowerment. This triggered this paper to explore the applicability of microfinance based on waqf model for women’s empowerment in Egypt. The study is adopting qualitative approach. Using semi-structured interview. Data was collected from five (i.e., academician, practitioners, regulators) experts in Egypt on microfinance, women empowerment, and Waqf. The findings disclosed that there was consensus among the interviewees that the Waqf model can give women various advantages, which can be seen as important aspects of gender equality and access to funding. In addition, there are no legislation issues and obstacles to apply model, the legislations are clear to women empowerment. Lastly, the challenges are miss use of waqf-microfinance by women, the confidence by donors, how to maintain the Waqf assets and demographic challenges. While women are requiring awareness, concentration, and the responsibility, cooperation, and seriousness. The microfinancing Waqf-based model can provide a practical shariah compliances model to empower Egyptian women. Furthermore, this proposed model can fuel the gap of funding women entrepreneurs in Egypt.This is one of the earliest qualitative studies focusing on microfinancing Waqf-based model to empower Egyptian women. Therefore, this study could be an initial reference for the extension of future research on microfinancing Waqf-based model and empowerment.

Keywords: Women’s Empowerment, Waqf-Based Microfinance