Accelerating Entrepreneurship in MENA Region: Opportunities and Challenges

Accelerating Entrepreneurship in MENA Region: Opportunities and Challenges

Amir Manzoor (Bahria University, Pakistan)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1923-2.ch075
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The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is at a turning point in its development. How MENA region addresses the employment needs of its rapidly increasing population of young people will determine whether the MENA region will become a region characterized by stable, knowledge-based economies that have a dynamic working middle class. Entrepreneurship is considered vital to drive this transition of MENA region. Increased entrepreneurial activities will not only spur job growth but also generate ideas, attract investment and inspire future entrepreneurs to follow footsteps of successful entrepreneurs. This chapter explores the entrepreneurial ecosystem of MENA region. The chapter discusses various challenges and provides specific recommendations to boost entrepreneurial activities in MENA region.
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2. Current State Of Entrepreneurship

The MENA region’s 60% of the population is under the age of 25. This population is one of the world’s youngest workforces. It is expected that more than 100 million young people will be joining this workforce by 2020 (World Economic Forum, 2015). Such a large and motivated young workforce can drive growth and prosperity for entire MENA region. According to a 2015 survey, more than 60% of people wanted to start their own business (Al-Masri, 2016). This situation presents both opportunities and challenges. Unemployment is still an obstacle to the region’s development. The Middle East and North Africa regions continue to show by far the highest youth unemployment rates – 28.2 and 30.5 per cent, respectively, in 2014 – and rates have continued to worsen since 2012, particularly for young women (International Labor Organization, 2015). According to an estimate, governments in MENA region had to create 100 million jobs until 2020 in order to meet the alarming unemployment numbers (Albawaba, 2015). The consequences of not doing so could be sever. It would not only result in slowed regional growth but also loss of promising youth to migration. Social unrest is yet another danger.

To accelerate job creation in the MENA region, an entrepreneurial environment is necessary. Besides employing their owners, new businesses can provide significant spillover benefits for the economy. Once nurtured into small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), these new businesses can significantly contribute to increase the employment and gross domestic product (GDP).

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