Female Emirati entrepreneurs' businesses are booming, survey finds

Total of 25,000 Emirati women owned 50,000 businesses worth Dh60bn in 2021

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Twenty-five thousand Emirati women entrepreneurs owned 50,000 businesses valued at Dh60 billion last year, a report has found.

The latest figures released by Nama Women Advancement, a Sharjah-based establishment contributing to inclusion and closing the gender gap, said the number of women entrepreneurs across the country has been rising.

In only 11 years the value of businesses owned by women has increased five-fold.

The data shows in 2019 there were 23,000 Emirati women running businesses worth Dh50 billion compared with 2010 when 11,000 owned businesses worth Dh12 billion.

Titled 'Women-Owned Businesses in the United Arab Emirates: A Golden Opportunity', the report was published by Nama Women Advancement in partnership with UN Women's Empowerment Section.

Strong business ecosystem

The report sheds light on the realities and prospects of Emirati women's contributions to the UAE’s development, improving the sustainability of various sectors and diversifying sources of national income.

It says gender parity has improved after a series of legal, policy and institutional measures were introduced in the past decade. Access to finance was also made easier.

The report said the UAE was ranked top in the world in the 2021/2022 Global Entrepreneurship Mentorship report in terms of countries that allow for better ease of doing business.

Businesswomen councils in the country were the main drivers for national legislation encouraging women’s participation in entrepreneurship through microbusinesses.

The report stressed that significant women-focused initiatives for SMEs and home-based activities gave access to thousands of female entrepreneurs to set up their own businesses.

Rise in the number of female-owned businesses

A survey of 1,000 Emirati businesswomen was also carried out, with the findings included in the report.

It says 77.6 per cent of women-owned businesses (WOB) in the UAE are led by those under 40.

More than 48 per cent are chief executives and 61.4 per cent sole proprietors, a clear indicator that Emirati entrepreneurs, particularly young women, are making significant contributions to the GDP in emerging economic sectors.

The report also says 13 per cent are co-owners with more than 51 per cent of shares, and 25 per cent are business leaders with fewer than 51 per cent of shares, while 72 per cent of WOBs are microenterprises, 24 per cent are small enterprises and 3 per cent are medium enterprises.

What women entrepreneurs want

The survey showed that respondents were confident in their growth plans, and expressed the importance of securing financing sources.

They said it was important to engage women in organisations that provide comprehensive support for entrepreneurs through networking, training and advisory services, the report found.

They also expressed the need for training in business skills — including commerce and digital marketing — financial accounting and management tools, as well as acquiring knowledge on making proposals in response to bids and tenders.

The survey found 41.2 per cent of female business leaders said the main challenge they faced in the UAE was the lack of access to markets; 38.8 per cent said it was access to finance, while 33.5 per cent said high market competition was a drawback.

Updated: December 22, 2022, 2:26 PM