Women Entrepreneurship in Gulf Region: Challenges and Strategies In GCC

Women Entrepreneurship in Gulf Region: Challenges and Strategies In GCC

Viju Mathew (Department of International Business Administration, College of Applied Sciences, Salalah, Oman)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJABIM.2019010107

Abstract

Women are restricted to make any type of business activity, contact outside the family and face other socio-cultural barriers in most of the Gulf countries. Until very recently, the importance of entrepreneurial business, women in business and its contribution to the national economy has been less examined and feels relevant for economic development. This article tries to explore and provide relevant and focused information on the characteristics, contributions and challenges faced by entrepreneurial women in Gulf countries. Several reforms have been done in Gulf countries to bring entrepreneurs into the main stream and affected their upsurge, extension, performance and interest highlighted in this article. Research focuses on empirical evidence to support the analysis highlighting the quantitative measure for the issues of gender differentials in entrepreneurial activities in Middle East countries
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Introduction

Economy and entrepreneurship have profound relationship with productivity and development. Entrepreneur can be viewed as the coordinator of production and agent of change (Schumpeter 1961); spot opportunities (Kirzner, 1973); exploit opportunities (Knight, 1921); reallocate resources (Schultz, 1975); adopt production function (Kanbur,1979); take risks (Newman, 2007); start and continue to expand new businesses (Hart, 2003); pursuit of creative or new solutions (Antoncic and Hisrich 2001). Many authors have put forward the role of the entrepreneur in economic development and growth (Lewis, 1954). Unfortunately, until very recently, the importance of entrepreneurial business and its contribution to the national economy has very less examined and feel relevant in the macro and micro economic development. The economies in the Middle East region especially GCC countries are more likely concentrated on the oil-based industry and revenue providing present boom for economic growth. The GCC countries have very less achieved in developing entrepreneurial policy and bringing entrepreneurial business to contribute to the national economy. Recent recession in developed economies has indicated the importance of entrepreneurial development to the world. GCC countries have also started diversifying from oil-based to non-oil-based industries like tourism, fashion, etc. women entrepreneurship especially in GCC countries has not been published giving clear indication of the issue. Therefore, the relevance of the title is of great importance. Research questions of this paper are to find the challenges and assess the strategic reform undertaken by the authority for developing women entrepreneurship in GCC countries.

During the early times the women in most of the Gulf countries were involved in agriculture farm work, engaged in family welfare, handcraft, and tended livestock (Fallatah, 2012), etc. According to the data from Central Department of Statistics and Information, 2013, 32.1% Saudi women above 15 years of age are unemployed compared to 6.1% men in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This form of high women unemployment rate can also be seen in other GCC countries like United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait. Youth unemployment stands at 29.2% in Saudi Arabia, 28.2% in Bahrain, 23% in Oman, 12% in Kuwait and 24% in the UAE whereas it is under 3% in Qatar (GIC Monthly Economic Review, GICMER – special issue Sept. 2012). According to the ILO’s Global Employment Trends Middle East report, a total of 28.1% of youths were unemployed last year. Female unemployment was 19.3%, more than twice the rate for men.

However, with the change in the socio-cultural environment the participation of women as workforce has increased tremendously in past decade. As per the data from The World Bank, Al Masah Capital Research, Female labor force in the GCC, 2001–10 approx. 1.5 million women in the GCC joined the labor force during 2001–10. Regionally, when compared 1.8 million in 2001, the total number of working women has increased to 83% (or at a CAGR of 6.9%) to 3.3 million in 2010. Women own enterprises are at increasing rate in all GCC countries getting the support from both international and state agencies providing technical education and trading tools, financial assistance, skill development, and after start services. Few examples of women owned business can be seen in Saudi Arabia with 20,000 commercial enterprises (Doumato, 2010) which can also be referred as 12% of all Saudi companies, including 16% of the large manufacturing firms (Al Munajjed, 2010) which is a good sign of bring women into the main stream of contribution to the national economy. Most of women prefer to adopt small or micro enterprises formally or informally in varied industries but concentrated to limited area like interior design, fashion, (Alturki and Braswell, 2010), handicraft, house hold items etc. Still many areas are untouched and show very little presence of women like construction, manufacturing, transportation, mining, etc.

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