Women in Kuwait are progressing incredibly and making a huge contribution to the economy. It has been established by World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank that 45% women in the country were into labor force in the year 2013. It is really great to know that The Global Gender Gap Report 2014 prepared by the World Economic Forum concluded that women owned around 13% of the firms in that year.
Hurdles for women entrepreneurs
4 women of Kuwait talked about obstacles and avenues for female leaders of the country during ‘Women in entrepreneurship’, a panel that was organized by the National Fund for SME development on 22nd March 2016 at the National Library of Kuwait.
It had panelists like Fouz Al-Sabah, cofounder of Khaleejesque magazine; Hind Al Nahedh, CEO of Socialobby that is a social media services company; and Rana Al-Nibari, CEO of Injaz Kuwait that is a non-profit and NGO for empowering youngsters. Dana Faisal Mado, founder of Twentytwo11, a PR and branding company, moderated the panel.
Her Highness Hind Al-Sabeeh appreciated the growth in the number of women entrepreneurs in her opening speech. She is also the minister for social affairs and labor, as well as for planning and development. She talked about how women can diversify the economy, create new jobs and activate imports and exports.
The fund strives to support diversification in the economy and women besides helping SMEs in a variety of areas like information and communications technology, manufacturing, creative and general services. Board member at the fund, Hadeel Al-Shammari clarified that women will also be supported with the help of mentorship and training programs.
Women have been leaders of startups dealing with manufacturing and design, eCommerce, creative fields and many other sectors.
Mona Al-Shaikh has a really striking life story. She was not a part of the panel but she is the founder of Engineering for Kids, programs that are especially devised to enlighten children about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Her deep interest in cars led her to be the founder of Bespoke Automotive, that deals with car accessories.
She confessed that in the year 2014, she was not aware about launching a business as there were no specialized mentorship services in Kuwait. It was challenging to enter a field that was dominated by males and people thought she hardly knew anything about cars.
She reached out to the budding entrepreneurs by making it clear that the first year would perhaps not fetch you any money but you should think about the future. Your budget should last at least 12 months because there is no instant success in the field on entrepreneurship.
Social media has facilitated women to launch businesses from home. Hind Al-Nahedh talked about “Instapreneur”, the term that was coined in Kuwait. Owing to the numerous users of Instagram, the market can be tested at reasonable rate and direct sales can also be generated.
Lulwa Al-Terkait launched Je La La, her jewelry business entirely through Instagram.
Startups dominated by women
Fouz Al-Sabah hired an exclusive team of women to empower them when she cofounded the magazine Khaleejesque. She talked about the numerous challenges that she had to encounter because of that. Women had queries regarding working hours, overtime, working on weekends and they were skeptical due to lack of guarantees. In spite of these obstacles, she did not give up. She believing in doing something new rather than settling for a saturated public sector.
Rana Al-Nibari confirmed that 80% of the people worked in the public sector and it is like a burden. Hind Al-Nahedh inspired women to work in teams and get acquainted with tech. Al-Nibari also motivated them to be leaders in their own jobs. She said that she was never an entrepreneur but success is fighting the battle and working hard.
At the end of the panel, local startups led by females such as 3DUtopia for 3D printing and prototyping and a small trash bin sorting waste automatically were seen at the entrance hall exhibiting their talent.
Women are no longer confined to the four walls of their homes and they are as successful as men. The panel has made this fact all the more evident.
I'm a self confessed foodie, king of the kitchen, wannabe anthropologist, technology evangelist , curious, inquisitive & experimental entrepreneur at @DigiLands and an adrenaline junkie. Love spending time with my wife & two young children and faulty KitKats that consist purely of solid chocolate.