Businesswomen need help to overcome constraints: survey

DUBAI — Small business women-entrepreneurs in the UAE are receiving little assistance offered by support organisations to help them overcome a variety of constraints, which effectively limit their motivation and participation in business activities, according to a survey conducted by the National Human Resources Development and Employment Authority (Tanmia).

By Sanaa Maadad

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Published: Thu 16 Dec 2004, 11:25 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:30 PM

Tanmia research indicates that a considerable number of Emarati women own and manage a variety of businesses mainly in trading, services and manufacturing activities. The research suggests that these women entrepreneurs are mainly young, well-educated and have adequate business training and/or previous work experience. However, a number of social restrictions are hindering their further development.

A detailed examination of a number of issues has led to the recommendation of policies and support programmes to assist Emarati women in starting and expanding small businesses. The research specifically focused on issues such as the UAE women motivation for entering into business, business experiences (setting-up and competition), the types of business activity involvement and measurement of their success. It also explored the contribution of supportive organisations such as Intilaq, chambers of commerce, economic departments, Business Women Council among others.

The survey covered 30 Women-managed Small Enterprises (WSEs). Most Emarati women entrepreneurs surveyed managed businesses in Dubai and Sharjah. The survey was supplemented with information gathered from key stakeholders of support organisations, and in-depth interviews with selected national women entrepreneurs.

The business activities of Emarati women entrepreneurs can be classified into two categories, the ‘traditional’ and the ‘modern’. The traditional category consists of a small number of women, mostly elderly with low levels of education, who may have acquired their skills through their families or informal training, and may have had little or no formal work experience.

The modern category consists of mainly young and highly-educated women, who have acquired some sort of formal work experience, and training, and who may be actively involved in business networking. However, Emarati women in both these segments face various business limitations in capital, concerning entrepreneurial abilities and/or experience, support from husbands and/or family, established formalities and mobility, demand and marketing and competition and technology.

Generally small business support organisations provide limited assistance for women engaged in the traditional segment due to lack of budget and business service expertise for these types of services.

Two prominent organisations, the Emirates Businesswomen Council and the Intilaq scheme, were found to provide support services specifically for assisting Emarati women entrepreneurs. However, it was not possible to assess the contribution of these organisations, as they are fairly new in providing business assistance. In light of this, and the information provided by women entrepreneurs who were surveyed, it was found that WSEs have not yet received adequate levels of outside assistance and support.

The survey listed a number of recommendations to help these women through initiating official recognition and creating awareness of the importance of Emarati women managed entrepreneurs.

The research highlighted the need to establish a framework to facilitate the set-up of WSEs (e.g. special trade licences, fast-track procedures for trade licences and workers visas, reduced fees for licenses and visas, etc), besides the importance of establishing an appropriate institutional framework in collaboration with the ideas of Tanmia, local chambers of commerce, Emirates Businesswomen Council, and others to identify business opportunities in both traditional and modern segments.

The need for developing support programmes and policies for Emarati women entrepreneurs in the areas of marker support, feasibility analysis of business activities, quality control practices, technological support, research and development, financial schemes, training and business networking, was also highlighted.

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