GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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First Name:
Title of Paper:
Promoting Female Employment and Entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia: Case Study
Paper Proposal Text :
In an interview with Arab News last year, local Saudi entrepreneur Abeer Mohammed stated, “the traditional attitudes towards females starting their own businesses have changed for the better, and society is becoming very welcoming to us now.” Mohammed’s statement reflects a larger belief that the country is slowly shifting towards becoming more responsive to demands by Saudi women to work, as well as own their own businesses. In the Kingdom’s National Transformation Program 2030, the government emphasized the role of women in both the social and developmental progress of the country. Including being a part of the “Saudization” efforts in different sectors, such as telecom. Despite this focus however, barriers to women’s full participation in the workforce – and in particular, as entrepreneurs – still remain. Most notably, the driving ban.

In recognition of this trend and the government’s focus (as well as other governments in the region) this paper will analyze female employment and entrepreneurship in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by utilizing several different case studies of female businesswomen and entrepreneurs within the country. These case studies have been collected via online surveys and in-depth interviews with four local women (the aim is to collect at least ten - five of which are entrepreneurs - by the research’s conclusion). The paper will also touch on the gender and identity dynamics of this trend – in particular the idea that women utilize education and work as a means to challenge traditional societal norms and establish independence within the context of their local environment.

Within the survey hosted on Typeform, I’ve asked them several questions regarding the business environment in the country, including:

1. Their experience establishing their business in the country (if they own one),
2. Their educational and social backgrounds and how that has impacted their work,
3. If they’ve utilized public and/or private resources for business education,
4. What they think the government, as well as universities and businesses could do to provide more women with opportunities, and
5. What barriers hinder them from being successful in their economic activities.

Although I’m at the early stages of this research, from the information I’ve gathered, I can hypothesize that a large number of local women in the country (particularly millennials), have a desire to own and operate their own businesses but lack the institutional support to achieve their goals. In particular, they would welcome public and private opportunities to attend entrepreneurial workshops and events, as well as participant in online-courses and other educational opportunities.

In response to my analysis on the success of current efforts in both the private and public sphere of Saudi Arabia to encourage female economic participation in the country based on these case studies – I will conclude the research by outlining policy recommendations for the government. Including fostering the development of government-sponsored community building centres, incubators and innovation centres that connect female businesswomen and entrepreneurs with each other, and with relevant resources to help them succeed both locally and globally.