Women-owned Businesses in the United Arab Emirates: A Golden Opportunity
Women-owned businesses (WOBs) are of high interest in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They make a strong contribution to entrepreneurial activity and have the potential to help ignite the nation’s economic growth. Nevertheless, they have not yet reached their full capability: women entrepreneurs in the UAE still face cultural, social, economic and financial barriers.
In this study, UN Women in collaboration with NAMA Women Advancement carried out a comprehensive investigation of the landscape of financial access offered to SMEs and Women-owned Businesses, concluding with suggestions for tailored interventions that would improve their access to finance.
The study points to the significant progress the United Arab Emirates has achieved in terms of fostering a gender-sensitive regulatory framework by endorsing a series of legal, policy and institutional measures, which prohibit discrimination based on gender in employment, economic participation and in access to credit or loans. It also looks at support to WOBs from private initiatives.
Indeed, access to funds (capital and bank loans) is a common challenge for both male- and female-owned MSMEs in the UAE, where the process is long, complicated and unclear, but harder for women-owned businesses due to a lack of women-focused or targeted services. Reviewing global best practices, this study makes a set of recommendations for policymakers and entrepreneurial ecosystem stakeholders while addressing women’s needs and challenges for accessing sources of funding.