Women Entrepreneurs In Middle East
In this report, women entrepreneurs contribute more to the quality and direction of economic and social development in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The recent interest in female entrepreneurship in the MENA region has led to a series of studies aimed at explaining the low participation of women in the labour force and political life in the MENA region at interregional and intraregional level and identifying the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs. Unemployment among women in the region remains high.
Indeed, according to the World Bank, 13 out of 15 countries have the lowest female labor-force participation rate in the Arab world. Restrictive laws in many countries in the region disadvantage women who want to have or start their own businesses. These laws include the ban of women opening bank accounts or owning property, restricted freedom of movement without a male guardian, restrictions on dealing with men who do not come from the woman’s family, and further cultural and attitude stigmatization.
Moreover, women are leaders in certain industrial sectors in the region. In Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, the number of companies run by women is growing faster than that run by men.
In countries like Egypt and Palestine, less than one-fifth of entrepreneurs are female. And the gender gap in start-up activity is uniform in most countries. The world’s tech sector is still dominated by men, and only one in ten tech CEOs is female.
Today, one in three start-ups in the Middle East are founded and run by women, the highest proportion outside Silicon Valley. This number is expected to increase as female entrepreneurs use the internet and digital channels to enter the labour market and start their own businesses. Given that higher female labor-force participation is estimated to boost the region’s economy by $2.7 trillion by 2025, female-led businesses could be transformative for the region.
Women entrepreneurs are an important and untapped source of economic growth in this part of the world. Development of women’s entrepreneurship as a driver of economic growth, diversification and development is a priority for the MENA region. However, women in the MENA countries have the lowest rate of overall entrepreneurial activity, at only 4% of the population.
An analysis by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) showed that if women and men were entrepreneurs, the global economy would increase from $2.5 trillion to $5 trillion in gross domestic product (GDP). It is fair to say that empowering women entrepreneurs to thrive in the MENA region would advance the region. The UAE business environment is committed to promoting equality in business, and the UAE government has implemented initiatives to combat gender inequality and empower women entrepreneurs.
In the field of entrepreneurship, the active role of women in the economic growth and development of organisations such as the OECD, the World Bank and the EU has been recognised. Indeed, women’s enterprises are seen as an important source of job creation and economic development. Initiatives to tackle gender inequality and empower women entrepreneurs include the growth of the Women Entrepreneurs Support Group, the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, support for private business partnerships and business start-up packages for women entrepreneurs.
Indeed, women’s entrepreneurship has increased in many countries in recent years. A study by the Kaufmann Foundation on the role of women entrepreneurs in the US has shown that the acceleration of female entrepreneurship has similar positive economic effects to the larger-scale entry of women to the US labor market. Businesswomen in the Middle East are thriving thanks to a number of factors, including better education and a desire to care for themselves and their families.
Smashing glass ceilings is an understatement, but female entrepreneurs in the Middle East have the courage and passion to help build some of the world’s most innovative businesses ever seen. There are a number of factors, including a good education and a desire to care for their loved ones which means that women entrepreneurs from the Middle East are one step ahead of women entrepreneurs in neighbouring regions. As a result, women entrepreneurs across the region run digital businesses that make billions for the local economy and prove their worth.
Not surprisingly, one in three start-ups in the Arab world is founded and run by women. The technology industry is nothing new in the Middle East, but the legacy is that it is still a male-dominated field.
At a panel discussion of the Arab American Business Professional Association about empowering Arab women entrepreneurs at the George Washington University School of Business Thursday, Salah Hassan, a professor of marketing and brand management, said that some of the best-regarded business ecosystems in the Arab world include those in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The difference in total business activity and tar rates between countries in the MENA region can be explained by the heterogeneity and diversity of their historical development, social composition and governance systems, and key indicators of human development, such as health, education, and living standards. Hassan pointed out that between 34 and 57 percent of STEM graduates in Arab countries are women — which is higher than at American and European universities.
According to the 2019 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), the gap between men and women is 40 % smaller in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. According to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) the global economy could double if the sexes were equally involved in entrepreneurial activities, from $2.5 trillion to $5 trillion. For the MENA region, the magic number is 150- the number of years that would take to close the gender gap in the region.
The region loses $575 billion every year due to barriers to women’s access to jobs and markets. The integration of women into the business landscape of Arab countries can solve many of the financial problems of the regions, such as the creation of economic wealth, the development of jobs and the fight against existing inequalities.