Start-ups reshaping MENA business

16 Aug 2014

The quiet revolution that has been taking place amid the turmoil and violence in the Middle East region is the emergence of entrepreneurs. The media has concentrated on showcasing the revolution, political instability and war that have indeed rocked the Middle East, but these reports have obscured a rising tide of tech-fuelled entrepreneurship — and an often-overlooked business opportunity. Entrepreneurs emboldened by the possibilities of new technologies, forging bottom-up change but with technology, the new generation isn’t waiting for traditional solutions, and in the midst of uncertainty.

The surprise factor for many investors has been that the women are a real force (nearly 30% or more of entrepreneurs are women) tells a ton of what is happening in the region. They are amazing entrepreneurs and amazing talent being unleashed broadly. Culture and religion is a true inspiration to the entrepreneurs, but when any institution demands hierarchical, lock-step adherence and keeps half of the population at bay, it is hard to see how that will be globally competitive. So with this new opportunity that technology has brought to the MENA region, women have emerged into a formidable force that are slowly showing how can impact the economy too.

Collaborations have increased significantly in the past five years. Big technology firms do not only look at these entrepreneurs as low cost alternatives but also as partners to develop new technology that can be used across other nations. Many emerging markets do offer these services but the potential being displayed by the MENA businesses is surprising the world with its innovation and approach. A region that is waiting for peace is not stopping innovation because of the violence that surrounds them. In fact that very violence is motivating more people to strive for a better and brighter future for the region. The passion for this is seen through the many start-ups that have been invested into by the majors in the West.

Many entrepreneurs have evolved to be able to showcase their businesses on a global platform. Silicon Valley has definitely taken notice and this has given impetus for new entrepreneurs to take the risk and pursue their dreams. The validation by big technology firms gives the confidence to not only the entrepreneurs but also the governments to open up their policies and invest more onto developing this new line of business. The economy has today moved from being purely dependent on oil to an open-structure that encourages new business. While the change is not as fast as one would hope for; it is definitely happening and this constant push to progress will definitely see a new light of hope for the region and its people.

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