How Women Entrepreneurs Survive in MENA Region

MENA women entrepreneurs

The 2018 Startup Bahrain week event took place early March. Different startups from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) participated in the event. The event attracted many investors, experienced entrepreneurs, and mentors from all walks of life. Women played crucial roles during the Startup Bahrain Week. Their contribution ranged from small products to handling of accelerators. Normally, the MENA women get more degrees in sciences than their US counterparts. For instance, studies show that about 33% of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) women participate in business. Despite the early stages of development, their enterprises generated over $100,000 in comparison to their US counterparts. The women from the US who participate in a business stand at 11%.

In the UAE, the least work experience for women is six years and 60% of these are sole proprietors. In Lebanon, work experience is 11 years and women sole proprietors are 40%. The MENA women who took part in the 2018 Bahrain startup week include Mona Ataya, Nada Alawi, and Lana Al-Attar.

MENA has several businesses owned by individuals, partnerships and even large companies. For instance, Souk and Careem developed rapidly in the region. Besides, the local and overseas investors observe the growth of these startups. Zubair SEC noted that in Omen, equal opportunities exist for both men and women. The differences in business growth may occur depending on the business domain. The region is home to over 230 women businesses. She added that starting a business is full of ups-and-downs. Some enterprises are riskier than the others. The capital need may also vary from one business to another.

The current report shows that women-led businesses help in facilitating economic growth and development. Moreover, these businesses provide more employment opportunities. The projection has it that in ten years to come, the GDP will hit over 47%. The economic impact will also sum up to $600 billion. However, the serious challenge facing women enterprises is inadequate funding. Approximately, 70% of women-based startups do not have access to proper funding. In 2018, revenue worth $1 billion trickled into the MENA economy from startups alone. The amount was higher than 2016 which was $200 million. In Omen, public funds allocation and global funds assist women-enterprises.

The Wamda Capital Partner, Walid Faza attributed women as the technology drivers. She also added advocated for recognition of women contribution in tech growth and development.

According to the report compiled by MarketsandMarkets, MENA startups have grown by 46.2% in the past three years. Furthermore, Bahrain region enjoys the advantages of its geographical position. Bahrain connects many regions within MENA and Europe. More than 25% brand new startups came from women businesses. Gulf Corporation Council women realized $385 billion assets worth from SMEs. Oman’s economic system shifts from the oil-based economy to tech-driven economy.


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Written by Denis Opudo

Am an engineer who's a tech blogger, hit me up on [email protected] and we base our discussion on technology in Africa and the rest of the world.
Denis the Tech guru

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