(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The number of women entrepreneurs is expected to grow this year, as conditions for starting up a business in the UAE improve.
Although according to the latest report published by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), men in the Mena region are 2.8 times more likely to start-up a business than women, there are several factors that can help female entrepreneurs to bridge the gap.
The total number of business registration and licensing transactions facilitated by the Dubai Economic Department (DED) in 2012 show a hefty 13 per cent increase compared to last year, citing improved business climate and business-friendly initiatives as the reason for the growth. In fact, in the World Bank's annual Ease of Doing Business survey, the UAE was ranked 22nd overall compared to 46 in 2012, and first in the Arab world.
Dubai SME, the DED agency mandated to develop the SME sector, has actively supported and encouraged the participation of women in the sector. "Our compilation of success stories is replete with inspiring achievements of women entrepreneurs who have started businesses and many of them are now flourishing. However, a lot remains to be done and we are continuing to develop new initiatives that encourage more individuals to start their business," said Abdul Baset Al Janahi, chief executive officer, Dubai SME.
"There have also been a growing number of private sector initiatives that provide mentorship and support for aspiring entrepreneurs," said Becky Crayman, Head of Awards, Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards, which honoured a female entrepreneur - NStyle's Lama Bazzari, as the Business Leader of the Year during its inaugural staging last year. Along with the Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards, a digital community for SMEs was also set up last year - SMEinfo.me - to help create an enabling environment for aspiring start-ups and small and medium sized businesses to thrive - an initiative that is also supported by Dubai SME.
The Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards offer shortlisted and winning businesses the added support of brand awareness and media recognition, something that cannot be underestimated in helping entrepreneurs to market their initiatives.
Another factor that could lead to the increase in number of women entrepreneurs is the fact that, according to the latest GEM report on the UAE, 80 per cent of Emirati women are 'nascent entrepreneurs'. "This means woman are natural entrepreneurs. They can easily start an enterprise given the right intervention and support " such as education, mentorship, and access to capital," Crayman added.
The Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards 2013 will recognise outstanding businesses, entrepreneurs and business leaders in 11 categories. Joining hands with Awards in recognising entrepreneurial excellence in the UAE are Gulf Capital, headline and category sponsor for the Gulf Capital Business of the Year award; as well as MasterCard, the category sponsor for MasterCard Small Business of the Year; and RSA, category sponsor for the RSA Start-up Business of the Year.