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A recent report by the London-based Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) has shed light on Saudi Arabia’s impressive standing in terms of female entrepreneurship. Among 43 countries surveyed, Saudi Arabia ranks third in the percentage of women holding entrepreneurial roles. The survey reveals that 17.7 percent of Saudi women are engaged in entrepreneurial activities, slightly surpassing the figure of 17 percent for Saudi men. Notably, Saudi Arabia outperforms many developed countries included in the report, where female entrepreneurship rates are generally lower. These countries often have 50 to 100 percent more male entrepreneurs. On the other hand, developing countries like Angola, Panama, and Saudi Arabia exhibit higher levels of female entrepreneurship. These findings underscore the progress made in the Kingdom’s business landscape, particularly in empowering women entrepreneurs.

Vision 2030 Initiative and its Impact on Female Employment

The rise of female entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia aligns with positive trends observed in female employment levels in recent years. The country’s Vision 2030 initiative, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and implemented in 2016, has brought about significant changes in women’s rights and economic participation. The Vision’s Human Capital Development Program emphasizes the role of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in driving the economy and contributes to the growth of women-led entrepreneurship. Consequently, female labour force participation has increased from 25.9 percent in the first quarter of 2020 to 31.4 percent in the second quarter. Over the past four years, female unemployment rates have also seen a decrease of 13.9 percent. Furthermore, since September 14, 2020, the Kingdom has prohibited gender-based discrimination in private sector salaries, further promoting gender equality in the workplace.

Perceived Opportunities vs. Entrepreneurial Action

The GEM survey also highlights the favourable business environment in Saudi Arabia, with more than 80 percent of adults perceiving good opportunities for starting a business. However, the survey reveals a gap between perceived opportunities and actual entrepreneurial action. More than half of the respondents expressed reluctance to start a business due to the fear of failure, despite recognizing the presence of favourable opportunities. This mindset indicates a need for further support and encouragement to bridge the gap between perception and action.

Government Initiatives to Support Women Entrepreneurs

To capitalize on the potential of women entrepreneurs, the Kingdom has implemented various initiatives and programs. The government’s focus on SMEs and entrepreneurship, as part of Vision 2030, provides a conducive environment for women to start and grow their businesses. Saudi Arabia has witnessed a surge in commercial registrations issued for women entrepreneurs, with a remarkable 112 percent increase over six years, from 2015. These registrations span diverse sectors, including design, education, real estate, and manufacturing.

Concluding Thoughts on Saudi Arabia’s Female Entrepreneurship Progress

In conclusion, Saudi Arabia’s ranking as the third-highest country for female entrepreneurship reflects the progress made in empowering women and creating an enabling environment for their participation in the economy. The Vision 2030 initiative, with its emphasis on SMEs, has played a significant role in fostering entrepreneurship and reducing gender disparities. However, there is still work to be done to encourage more women to take the leap

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