In a major boost to regional women empowerment, a recent survey found that SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region have more women in senior positions than the global average.
The survey by Dubai-based Beehive, the region’s first regulated peer to peer lending platform, also reported that SMEs were offering young people a great opportunity for development with 48 percent of SMEs ready to hire someone under 25 with no experience.
Beehive’s report is based on quantitative and qualitative SME research, including a survey of 175 SME owners and senior management and a roundtable of 13 prominent SME founders/CEOs. It was aimed at highlighting the state of the region’s SMEs ecosystem.
The report focused on key areas that impact SMEs such as talent acquisition, innovation, and growth factors. The survey results showed positive indicators such as SME appetite for market expansion and the opportunity for women in business.
According to the survey, 28 percent of respondents see innovation as a priority for growth, yet only 2 percent of business owners are currently trying to access finance to fund it.
The region also fares well as a leading destination for young people to start their careers in start-ups and SMEs. This popularity has the potential to establish Mena as a hotbed of budding entrepreneurs.
In the report, SMEs highlight challenges and areas where they feel they could benefit from more support initiatives to help them drive growth, such as innovation.
They also talk about new ways of working in order to stay competitive and take advantage of business opportunities, said a statement from Beehive, which is celebrating five years of its regional operation.
Launched in 2014, it has grown from a start-up to become a leading fintech SME in the region with a team of 30 in the UAE and a further 17 employees in Thailand.
The company, which had recently entered Bahrain, is planning further expansion in 2020, it added.
“We’re delighted to be celebrating five years of operation in the region and very much see our company as an SME for SMEs,” remarked its CEO Craig Moore.
“During our five years, we have amassed a significant amount of data which gives us an invaluable insight into the SMEs landscape. This report digs deeper to assess their business challenges and opportunities, as well as their attitudes and opinions as SME owners and senior management,” he added.