Women-owned Businesses in the United Arab Emirates: A Golden Opportunity

Women-owned Businesses in the United Arab Emirates: A Golden Opportunity
Authors: Dr. Maya Rmeity, Hiba El Jardali / Editor: Andy Quan

Women-owned businesses (WOBs) in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region could make significant contributions to entrepreneurial activity and countries’ economic growth, but face challenges and barriers. This report examines access to finance in the United Arab Emirates for WOBs; describes government and private measures to promote women’s entrepreneurship; looks at global best practices and makes recommendations for policymakers and stakeholders to improve women-owned businesses’ access to financing.

Women-owned businesses (WOBs) are of high interest in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region due to their significant contribution to entrepreneurial activity and to their high potential for contributing to economic growth. Nevertheless, they have not yet reached their full capability: women entrepreneurs in the MENA region still face cultural and social challenges and economic and financial barriers.

In this report, UN Women presents a comprehensive investigation of the landscape of access to finance offered to SMEs and women-owned businesses in the United Arab Emirates, 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 more difficult for women-owned businesses, including because of discrimination or 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.

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Resource type(s): Research papers
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