Arab Women Entrepreneurs: A Growing Phenomenon
“Women-managed businesses are witnessing growing acceptance in Arab societies. Religiously, Arab women have a powerful role model in Prophet Mohammad‟s first wife Khadija, who was a successful trader and businesswoman. A study by the Syria Trust for Development in 2010 revealed that forty percent of men and eighty percent of women held positive attitudes towards entrepreneurship as a career option for women. Around 65 percent of female owned firms were actively managed by the female owner in Syria. Female entrepreneurship is also gathering support at the ministerial level in governments. The Shoura Council in Saudi Arabia has eased the process to register businesses by women in the last five years.
“The above developments indicate that the number of women entrepreneurs is likely to grow in the future, however the growth rate is difficult to predict because of the recent unrest in the region. Although women entrepreneurs are largely found in the textile, handicrafts and agro processing sectors today, a growing number could potentially enter the emerging fields of science and technology, ICT, media, and software.”
Acces to finance, education, as well as access to training programs and civil society support are some of the drivers increasing female entrepreneurship in the MENA region.
Implications from SFG-ME
“In the long run, a growth in the number of women entrepreneurs is likely to aid in boosting female labor force participation, and reducing gender inequalities in the region,” as well as increase country GDP and per capita income, and reduce national unemployment figures.
Sources:SFG-ME April 2011 pgs. 4-6