Rising Female Entrepreneurship gives Gulf a Boost
A new report has revealed female entrepreneurship has risen 150% over a three year period within Gulf countries, representing a $385bn contribution to their economies. The GCC Women – Entrepreneurs in a New Economy report, undertaken by the Gulf Co-Operation Council (GCC), recorded the highest ever rates of female business activity within the region, representing an increase from 4% to 10% of its total business activity.
Women-led SMEs, in particular, have seen a sharp increase in recent years. The report notes the trend is, “At the forefront of the economic transformation of the region backed by increased literacy and educational opportunities, slowly changing cultural attitudes, and government policies aimed at reducing dependence on foreign labour.”
These conditions, which are supporting the boom in female backed business, are reflective of sustainability focuses within countries facing economic barriers. For example, it was reported that for every 10% increase in women given access to education, a countries GDP improved by 3%¹, a growth which benefits everyone including businesses.
The region with the second lowest levels of female business participation in the world, the change has brought more than a financial boost. This newly prosperous group of women represents new markets, greater collaborative opportunities between businesses, new technologies and a more diverse contribution to developing best practices.
In addition, financially empowering women supports a greater reinvestment in the community, as reports reveal on average women reinvest 90% of their income into their families and neighbours, compared with 35% for men². This contribution to the community and future generations promotes social development such as education, infrastructure and healthcare from within, which in the future pays economic dividends for the region.
Importantly, GCC women are taking leadership roles in family businesses, which contribute 80% of the GCC’s non-oil GDP, and preserve strong, localised infrastructures for communities. With dependence on the oil economy, gains made for GDP in alternate markets are pivotal to long-term prosperity in Gulf nations, in particular as companies respond to the environmental targets of governments.
An example of how female entrepreneurship can support significant gains for the economies they operate within is found in agriculture, an industry which women regularly struggle in through a lack of skills training, greater setbacks accessing finance, and less land ownership. Empowering more women to access the resources and education they need to become farmers would contribute substantially to problems of hunger, increasing farm yields by a predicted 20-30% and total agricultural output by at least an estimated 4%, contributing to reducing the amount of world hunger by an estimated 150 million people.