Arabic language

A new project spanning the Middle East and North Africa helps women-led enterprises prosper

Algiers, Egypt; Jordan; Morocco; Tunisia; UAE; Palestine and Yemen; She Wins Arabia to be applied in these countries

Key participants in the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem will benefit from this program.

In the Middle East and North Africa, women-led entrepreneurs are getting a helping hand owing to a new program that provides them with the guidance, funding, and mentoring they need to develop.

International Financial Corporation (IFC) from the World Bank and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) collaborate to assist incubators, accelerators, and venture capital funds via training and capacity development.

Women-led startups and enterprises

Working with regional women-led startups and enterprises to help them develop their business plans and improve their presentations to prospective investors is part of IFC’s more significant commitment to eliminating economic inequities between men and women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

“Access to financing, markets, and talent” is a significant issue for both male and female entrepreneurs worldwide, according to ADGM’s director of strategic alliances, Miriam Kiwan.

She mentioned an absence of knowledge about the unique problems encountered by women-led firms in the MENA entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Lack of access to financial services and bank loans

A lack of access to financial services and bank loans, a shallow level of female participation in the financing ecosystem, and persistent gender prejudice against female and minority entrepreneurs may be the most challenging obstacle to overcome, according to the mighty Oak Park.

Although female founders of new companies have 35 percent greater returns on investment and generate an average of 12 percent larger sales than male founders, according to a recent OECD analysis, they receive 23 percent less capital.

IFC estimates that just 6% of private equity and venture capital financing in the area goes to female-led businesses, making programs like She Wins Arabia critical to the advancement of female entrepreneurs. She Wins Arabia is one such program.

Women-owned businesses are still underrepresented in many incubators and venture capital firms. It’s critical to build regional initiatives to increase the proportion of female fund managers, a statement from Kiwan to Arab News said.

By strengthening the ability and involvement of all stakeholders in this system, including incubators, accelerators, and investors, we can minimize unconscious prejudice and establish an egalitarian startup environment.

Kiwan stresses the importance of empowering women-led businesses by providing them with the necessary tools and resources to succeed in the marketplace.

As a digital ecosystem facilitator focusing on diversity, ADGM must promote projects like She Wins Arabia to advance gender parity throughout its ecosystem and increase gender-less investment in the area,” she added.

More than a half-dozen countries in Africa and the Middle East are expected to benefit from the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative’s support and the Netherlands’ government.

As a culmination of the initiative, a pitch competition will be held for women-led enterprises to help them find funding and resources in their local area.

A recent Boston Consulting Group analysis suggests that assisting female entrepreneurs may increase global GDP by 3 to 6 percent and enhance the global economy by $5 trillion. “Female founders play a vital role in contributing to economic development, wealth creation, and employment creation,” Kiwan stated.

Women and girls make up half of the global population, which means they have a significant influence on regional economic growth, can assist the United Nations to accomplish its Sustainable Development Goals by 2025, and can help usher in the Fourth Industrial Revolution by changing our social fabric.

IFC’s gender head for the Middle East, Central Asia, and Turkey, Sammar Essmat, agrees with Kiwan that women have a lot of potentials to contribute to the region’s economy.

This opportunity means eliminating the gender pay gap in the entrepreneurial world. Estimate estimates that if women were adequately incorporated into the economy, MENA nations’ GDP would grow by 30 to 40%.

MENA entrepreneurship ecosystem

The good thing is that the MENA entrepreneurship ecosystem has developed and is steadily becoming a prominent location for startup founders. Girls surpass their male counterparts at regional colleges and universities by a wide margin. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), women make up 70% of university graduates. However, the proportion lowers once women reach their mid-career owing to organizational cultures and the gender wage gap, among other things.

Because of the difficulties women face in entrepreneurship, Kiwan believes it can provide more significant opportunities for women and alternatives to traditional work. Our gender equality goal and equal opportunity for female entrepreneurs have been advanced via collaboration with influential regional and international organizations.

As part of its efforts to promote gender equality in the area, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) works with the World Bank to eliminate legal impediments to women’s economic involvement through improving access to financing, skills training programs, and digital technology.

For the first time since Saudi Arabia’s revolution, women have been granted more freedoms, including the right to work in a wide range of disciplines. Equal representation for men and women is becoming a priority in Arab nations like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Leaders and governments see it as an economic and geopolitical necessity.

MAGNiTT’s CTO and founder, Dana Al-Jawder says that “support and mentoring devoted to female-led businesses in the Middle East and Africa, a minority in the area, is a wonderful effort to inspire more women to enter the entrepreneurial field,” she stated in an interview.

If more leaders like Nadine Mezher, co-founder of Sarwa, the first and fastest-growing investing platform and personal finance app for young professionals in the Middle East, succeed in their endeavors, this segment’s development will be accelerated.