Four in 10 Startups in Saudi Arabia Are Owned by Women

Published October 2nd, 2017 - 12:03 GMT
Saudi Arabia aims to raise the participation of SMEs in the macro-economy from 20 percent to 35 percent by 2030. (AFP/ File)
Saudi Arabia aims to raise the participation of SMEs in the macro-economy from 20 percent to 35 percent by 2030. (AFP/ File)

Nearly 40 percent of startups launched in 2016 in Saudi Arabia are owned by women.

“This proves that the role of women in economic development has improved,” said the Governor of the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Saudi Arabia, Ghassan Al-Sulaiman. 

“Since its establishment, the General Authority for SMEs has been working in two directions: first, tracking the challenges faced by small enterprises, and second, starting where others have left off,” he noted.

“For the first direction, we have conducted several workshops for 2,000 enterprises in order to identify their weaknesses, while for the second direction, we have studied the experience of almost 18 countries focused on successful companies which are likely to have a bright future.”

Al-Sulaiman also pointed out that Saudi Arabia needs strong small enterprises which can contribute to the economy, especially in the presence of new sectors - such as mining, sports and tourism - that need the services and products of SMEs. “There are large projects looking for a greater contribution from SMEs.”

He said that the authority was in the final stage of preparing a strategy for the development of the SME sector, and part of it will be financing SMEs. “There are different ideas for the financing mechanism as well as a few new proposals, and I expect the strategy to be submitted to the Council of Economic and Development Affairs and to the Cabinet within 45 days,” he said.

The Minister of Commerce and Investment, Majid Al-Qasabi, said: “SMEs are an engine of economic growth, and the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 aims to develop this sector and raise its participation in the macro-economy from 20 percent to 35 percent, which is expected to provide 500,000 to 700,000 job opportunities by 2030. 

“The ministry has participated in amending the government procurement system to ensure the participation of SMEs, in addition to dealing with the bankruptcy, commercial mortgage and commercial franchise systems, which will allow SMEs to expand across the Kingdom, and all these systems are in their final stages awaiting to be issued.”

Al-Qasabi added that the ministry was keen on fighting bureaucracy, and that a committee, “Tayseer”, with members from the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, has been formed to improve the overall business environment.

By Ghassan Al-Sulaiman

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