In an otherwise male-dominated part of the world, women entrepreneurs in the Middle East are also rising up to the day despite challenges.According to a report by Al Masah Capital released earlier this year, women are founding one in every four businesses in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. While the percentage of women in business may not be very large, the size and impact of their businesses match up to those of their male counterparts.
In an extremely impressive statistic thrown up by the report, the percentage of women-led start-ups in the Middle East surpasses that of the Silicon Valley. This is a clear indication of a healthier, more gender-neutral business environment, that will lead to great economic progress of the entire region. According to PayFort Infographic, 33% of businesses owned by women in the MENA region earn revenues in excess of $100,000, as compared to 13% in the US.
This is not to say, that women entrepreneurs do not face challenges in the region. From financial and business management skills, access to funding and capital, retention of employees and high cost of public services, women have to power through a myriad of obstacles before emerging successfully in business. With access to capital being one of the biggest barrier to women entrepreneurs, only 30% of businesses owned by women get adequately funded by financial institutions. The rest, are compelled to approach family and friends to get their businesses started. Not only investment, but women entrepreneurs lack the support system of training, network, education and mentoring that is so easily available to their male counterparts. The formation of women-only funds, networking platforms and mentoring by successful entrepreneurs can help overcome some of the challenges and give women entrepreneurs the stimulus to take their businesses to the next level.