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Women entrepreneurs bridge the gender gap in Saudi Arabia

By Afshan Aziz

Several women-led businesses are flourishing in the Kingdom because of recent policy changes and government support. An increasing number of women have begun to achieve tremendous success in the entrepreneurial field, tackling big businesses and male-dominated industries to make their unique mark on the economy.

Although there were many challenges relating to the conservative nature of the Kingdom, access to finance, opportunities and training, but in light of recent increases in female-friendly business opportunities, they have overcome the challenges and are blooming in the market with their talents and skills. They are both willing and able to step out of the box to find creative jobs that ignite their passions and challenge them.

Many women have established their own business to earn money, respect and feed their families. They want to compete on an equal basis with men in the marketplace and seek to be part of their Kingdom’s growing economy. According to survey done on women’s career aspirations in a local university in Jeddah, it was found that 40 percent had taken up the challenge and set up their own enterprises.

Things are changing for the better in the Kingdom, women who were lagging behind men on key measures of startup activity or having their firms grow slowly, are now leading the business. Moreover, the Kingdom has made access to credit easier for women by prohibiting gender-based discrimination in financial services. The government have passed a legal provision that has been proven to increase women’s access to finance.

However, the perspective of women who believed that there are less opportunities for them compared to men and feared failure is now more confident with the encouragement from society and government.

Besides, the education made them positive and knowledgeable leading them to be more confident in their decision.

A lot of females before starting their own business have taken up jobs to gain confidence and work experience, which is necessary prior to setting up their own business. They believe it is important to establish a network and understand the services required by the market.

There are many successful business in the Kingdom led by women. It is all because they have overcome the social obstacles to achieve parity with their men counterparts and be part of the global trend for a
more stable and equitable business environment.