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Women entrepreneurship on the rise in Gulf

ManamaRole of women in the development of GCC economies has grown immensely, as per a study.

Women are now playing a pivotal role in the development of Bahrain and its neighbours, says the “GCC Women - Entrepreneurs in a New Economy” report by Al Masah Capital. 

The study revealed that GCC women manage assets worth $385 billion. Female entrepreneurs in the region increased from 4 to 10 per cent in the 2011-14 period, narrowing the gender gap in entrepreneurial intentions.

Women in the Gulf region are taking leadership roles in private and family-owned businesses, while also participating in politics and government affairs.

Increased literacy and educational opportunities, slowly changing cultural attitudes, and government policies aimed at reducing dependence on foreign labour were touted as reasons that empowered women.

“Women in the GCC are fast approaching gender equality in business start-up intentions, possibly resulting in greater parity in the next wave of entrepreneurship in the region. However, this calls for increased entrepreneurial education and training to bring their ideas to fruition and successfully own and manage established businesses,” says the report. 

Although the success rate stands at 40pc, this number is rapidly rising. Corroborating the growing interest of GCC women in business, the ‘2015 Forbes List of The 100 Most Powerful Arab Business Women in The Middle East’ constituted nearly 50pc of GCC women. 

High unemployment rates, limited access to formal finance, regulatory and social constraints, striking a work-life balance, inadequate training and access to information, and lack of female-friendly entrepreneurship policies are key barriers faced by women entrepreneurs in the GCC.

“Hence, GCC governments have amplified efforts towards addressing existing challenges faced by women entrepreneurs and have introduced a range of empowerment measures across the political, business and educational arenas,” the report stated.