9 Feb

WHY NOW IS A GREAT TIME TO BE A FEMALE ENTREPRENEUR IN THE UAE

Why now is a great time to be a female entrepreneur in the UAE

Female entrepreneurs are a key part of any country’s economic future, and more women than ever are now looking to register their business in United Arab Emirates. Across a variety of industries, local and international women are taking advantage of the growing opportunities.

So here are four reasons why you, as a female entrepreneur, should consider setting up a startup business in UAE.

1. The UAE is ahead of the game

The UAE offers greater gender equality than any other country in the region.

As reported by Khaleej Times, the Emirates pledged $50m to the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative fund in 2017, and by 2018, had closed 64% of the overall gender gap in the UAE workforce. In fact, 33% of the female-owned firms surveyed in the UAE were generating revenues at or above $100,000 – well above the other countries surveyed.

The trend is very much in the right direction as female UAE LLC company formation continues to rise.

What this means to you

The time is now to act. Foreign nationals need only to look at successful entrepreneurs such as: Becky Balderstone, founder of Ripe that specialises in organic produce; health and wellness expert Andrea Debellis, founder of NYLA House; and Ambareen Musa who started the highly-successful financial services comparison portal.

These women, and thousands more like them, are genuine examples of the opportunities available to female entrepreneurs in the UAE – regardless of where you come from. All you need is a great idea, choose a freezone in UAE to set up, and the determination to see it through.

2. Various government initiatives aimed at women

The UAE government is driving initiatives to directly address gender equality in the workforce. In fact, the country ranked first in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in the economic participation of women in the World Bank's 2021 ‘Women, Business and the Law’ report.

In addition, there are a number of initiatives to help female entrepreneurs succeed. Before you start investigating these, decide on which area of your business requires help. This will enable you to narrow your search.

How to take advantage of this

Initiatives to consider include the Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC). Originally part of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, this non-profit organisation provides education, training and funding opportunities to aid the career aspirations of UAE-based businesswomen.

If your business idea is very new, you should consider the Abu Dhabi Business Women Council (ADBWC)’s Integrated and Innovative Business Incubator. It is designed to help women identify their latent creative potential and translate ideas into productive projects. It offers technical support, provides advice and guidance and even has some funding available.

Another noteworthy initiative is the BusinessWomen Package launched by Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ). The package is designed for women entrepreneurs, encouraging and empowering you to kickstart your business in the UAE with everything you need at a friendly cost.

UAE Expo 2020 also has a dedicated pavilion for women. The space is definitely worth your visit as it intends to promote meaningful discussions that supports women’s vision and highlights your contributions to shaping the society.

3. Added support through company partnerships

Private companies regularly form partnerships with UAE government agencies and charities to increase the depth of training and capital that can be provided to women.

Look out also for the Women Entrepreneurship Summit MENA which is a strategic platform aimed at women entrepreneurs across the Middle East and North Africa region. Womena is another interesting outlet – a media company that produces content focused towards female founders and also functions as an accelerator and network.

The partnership between JPMorgan Chase Foundation and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women was another high-profile initiative, offering Emirati women business training. These partnerships come and go, so you need to keep your eyes and networks open.

To seize these opportunities, you need to be on the ball. Initiatives pop up all the time, but sometimes only last a year or so.

Your radar needs to pick up on new avenues of support as soon as they appear, giving you the chance to plan out applications well before the deadlines.

4. Availability of female-only setup package

In theory, free zones are a perfect place to open a company in the UAE. They offer streamlined setup processes, customisable offices or coworking spaces and one-stop resources for government services. Keeping costs down is as important as setting up in a premier location.

The time is right

The UAE business environment is one that is committed to driving equality in the business world with dedicated businesswomen setup packages. We would go so far as to say there has never been a better time to be a female entrepreneur in the UAE.

Calling all Emirati and expat women – if you have the drive, vision and ambition, you will be rewarded based on your skills, and you will be encouraged along the way with a great deal of support at the government and business-organisation level that will further strengthen you on your road to success.

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