NAYA| Women entrepreneurs: The lengthy journey to recognize potentials

The published study reported that the proportion of female founders has remained stable at 14 percent over the years in the MENA.
by Sally Farhat

6 September 2019 | 15:53

Source: by Annahar

  • by Sally Farhat
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 6 September 2019 | 15:53

Photo designed by correspondent Tala Ramadan. (Annahar).

BEIRUT: The MENA’s startup median funding volumes has increased all throughout 2018, according to a report published by ArabNet and The Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development.

This development led to major shifts in the market with an observable increase in “players who seek more opportunities,” as well as an increase in competition.

“The global innovation market has become more mature compared to earlier years,” the report stated, adding that “an interesting 2018 development was the establishment of tech funds focused on female entrepreneurs.”

Nonetheless, women’s participation in innovation and startups and their possibility of getting funded remains low, according to Certified Entrepreneurship Trainer and Consultant Amir Saab.

“Our culture is one of the main drawbacks for aspiring women entrepreneurs,” Saab told Annahar. “Women in our region are in most cases expected to complete two jobs: raise a family and generate an income. While dropping the second might be acceptable, females tend to get judged if they fail to complete the first.”

Adding that, “our societies do not directly discourage or prevent women from becoming entrepreneurs, they just do not motivate them through imposed social norms and values.”

The published study reported that the proportion of female founders has remained stable at 14 percent over the years in the MENA.

This proportion is higher for Levant countries, with Lebanon and Jordan scoring the highest at 20 percent.

Additionally, the number of startup investments are higher for teams with all-men founders in comparison to teams with at least one-woman founder.

“The number of deals however, for teams with at least one female founder have almost doubled from 2013 to 2018. In 2018, investments in teams with at least one female founder made up about one fourth of all deals,” according to the report. “This highlights the fact that female founders are mainly more active in early stage businesses, and that very few of the startups with female founders raise big-ticket deals.”

Saab explained that the region’s economic problems, which are equally faced by both genders, add further pressure on the status of women in startups at the moment. Nonetheless, he highlighted some initiatives, such as BLC Bank We Initiative and the Lebanese League for Women in Business among others, that are supporting women entrepreneurs with the hope of a better future.

Additionally, ArabNet and The Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development’s study stressed that such initiatives, whether public or private, can help increase women’s participation and “hence decrease the disparity between male and female founders.”

“At the end of the day, women are as capable as men when it comes to entrepreneurship,” Saab told Annahar. “Accordingly, it is all about raising awareness on the issue and giving women a stage to exhibit their potentials.”


Welcome to “NAYA,” the newest addition to Annahar’s coverage. This section aims at fortifying Lebanese women’s voices by highlighting their talents, challenges, innovations, and women’s empowerment. We will also be reporting on the world of work, family, style, health, and culture. NAYA is devoted to women of all generations. NAYA Editor, Sally Farhat: [email protected]

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