No one starts out on a new business venture with the idea of failure somewhere down the line. Thoughts of failure may well exist deep in the back of the conscious mind, ready to jump to the fore if the going gets tough and doubts creep in. But with a realistic and positive business plan leading the way, any such negativity if it surfaces should be nothing more than a momentary lapse. It helps, of course, having bundles of encouragement both from government and the business community itself. Learning from the experience of others can be cathartic and timely and thus help shape the would-be entrepreneur’s attitude towards risk and setback.
Starting a business overseas, for example, is often a step too far for many. Yet thousands of Americans are doing just that, realizing that 95% of the world’s population and two-thirds of total world purchasing power are to be found out-with the borders of the United States. The US government, as it always has, stands ready with information, resources and helpful contacts to assist anyone contemplating such a move.
UAE Has Been the Recent Hub for Huge Business Opportunities
Over the years, many have been attracted to the Middle East, and to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in particular where huge oil wealth has bolstered the economy for decades. Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, along with its largest metropolis, Dubai, have thrown open huge business opportunities over a range of sectors from construction and education to health and tourism. Americans, particularly, have played their part in turning a once impoverished country into the economic powerhouse we see today.
But the UAE government has played its part, too, in creating conditions highly conducive to foreign investment and business startups by minimizing bureaucracy and red tape and offering a raft of incentives ranging from zero personal and corporate tax to allowing 100% foreign ownership. But there’s an Achilles heel evident in all of the positivity, highlighted during the SME Congress & Expo held in Abu Dhabi at the end of last year. It’s been tagged variously as the gender gap or the glass ceiling, to name just two, and refers to the difficulty women have reaching the upper rungs of the corporate or entrepreneurial ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, men across the world are almost three times more likely to start a business than women.
There’s a Surge in the Number of Women Entrepreneurs in UAE
However, within the UAE, the number of women entrepreneurs is expected to grow significantly over the coming years. A report, ‘Empowering the Third Billion, Women and the World of Work in 2012′, produced by global consulting firm Booz & Company, says entrepreneurship in the UAE, although not widely prevalent, has been rising recently. Both men and women are starting more businesses than was the case five years ago.
A recent YouGov study found 84% of UAE national respondents intended to start their own business, a momentum which the government should leverage, suggests the report, potentially by tapping into the emirates’ cultural legacy – prior to the oil boom, the UAE was a nation of traders, thanks to its central location in the Gulf.
The report concludes, “With high levels of education and strong support from their government, Emirati women have the opportunity to advance rapidly as both workers and entrepreneurs. But even the most vocal statements of support are not enough without the policy, infrastructure and culture change to back them up. Women in the UAE need more inclusive work-places and dedicated entrepreneurial resources to reach their full potential.”
The full Booz & Company report is available from their website here.