Saudi Arabia makes major leap forward in women’s entrepreneurship

Editorial | | Reading Time: 4:57 minutes

Saudi Arabia: There are many more women entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia today than there were six years ago, according to the Prince Mohammed Bin Salman College of Business and Entrepreneurship (MBSC).

According to Dr. Muhammad Azam Roomi, who spoke at the Fifth Gulf Businesswomen Forum in Jeddah, women across Saudi Arabia have become major contributors to the entrepreneurial ecosystem, placing the Kingdom fourth among the top countries in entrepreneurship.

Held under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Al Faisal, Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Emir of Makkah, the forum was organized by the Federation of the Gulf Cooperation Council Chambers (FGCCC), the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC), and the Jeddah Chamber. More than 500 GCC and Arab dignitaries attended the forum, titled Gulf Women: Between Empowerment and Leadership.

In a session titled Women’s Entrepreneurship Development in Saudi Arabia: The Results of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (2016-2022), Prof. Roomi, who teaches entrepreneurship at MBSC and heads the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s team in Saudi Arabia, went over the GEM’s 2020-2021 report, which was released by the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority (Monsha'at) and MBSC. The report covers the Kingdom’s new policies towards women, including their right to full business enterprise ownership.

The Kingdom has come a long way in its mission to increase women’s national workforce representation, said Dr. Roomi, who has been writing the annual report since 2017. Thanks to bold initiatives that have created more employment opportunities for women, provided them with new funding avenues, and facilitated a number of new networking events, women’s representation had risen from 22 percent in 2019 to 31 percent in 2021.

Dr. Roomi attributed the Kingdom’s entrepreneurial boom to the government’s awareness programs that have motivated more women to start businesses than ever before. Networking events such as the Biban forum have helped women from across the country showcase their business acumen. They have also found a great amount of support from various exhibitions and performance-based awards. The GEM report, he added, contains ample evidence to support the positive impact that these initiatives have had. It helps build a greater understanding of the traits and attributes of women’s entrepreneurship in the Kingdom, functioning as a study of effective policymaking and socioeconomic program design.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor relies on 13 indicators to assess entrepreneurship in a given country, including that country’s financial environment, legislative priorities, bureaucracy and taxation in government legislation, the level and quality of government programs for entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurship across educational levels.

The Gulf Businesswomen Forum is an international platform through which entrepreneurial women from GCC countries can express their aspirations, show off their plans to grow and expand their enterprises to become significant contributors to economic growth, and showcase their entrepreneurial and innovative achievements. It also aims to identity hurdles that may hinder entrepreneurial women’s quest to succeed, highlight investment opportunities in and for entrepreneurial enterprises, and showcase the success stories of GCC women.