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Are cupcakes your jam? Take a look at women entrepreneurs excelling in Saudi Arabia

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Women entrepreneurs may have not been the driving force behind the wheel in Saudi Arabia so far, but they are most definitely taking up the driver`s seat now and here is why:

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Imagine cookies and cakes and bedazzling colors that string from one wall to the other. This is exactly how Cake & Co, a trendy bakery in Riyadh owned by Nawal looks like. She is a young Saudi woman whose passion for baking drove her to set up a business in 2014, offering custom-made cakes and cookies. Overseeing every aspect of the business, from decorating cakes to managing a team of seven and doing the accounts, she is the very model of the new successful Saudi women entrepreneurs. They are the ones who are revitalising and boosting the Saudi economy.

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Cupcake from Cookies&Co. Factory in Riyadh

Today, entrepreneurship is a globally acclaimed innovation process that mobilizes people and resources. It is crucial to economic development and a key factor for growth and expansion. And Saudi Arabia is aware of it.  For women, it is a powerful tool of empowerment, offering flexible arrangements that enable them to balance work and family responsibilities.

The motto has always been that women’s economic freedom contributes to the country’s development and to job creation, a necessity in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, there is a large pool of dynamic Saudi women with such talents to run their own businesses. Providing them with the right education and opportunities will enable the country to use this massive resource and make entrepreneurship an impetus for prosperity.

Young women in Saudi Arabia have indeed shown great potential when it comes to starting a business, as their motivation and determination is their main drive. They usually end up starting their own businesses and succeeding; making a difference not only to their own lives but also to their families and their community.

Female entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia are now establishing and managing more small to medium enterprises than ever before.

Saudi women account for 39 percent of the total number of entrepreneurs in the kingdom, up 35 percent over the past 10 years, according to official statistics presented for World Entrepreneurship Day 2017. 

They are free to start their own business without the permission of a male guardian, and the number of commercial registers held in the name of Saudi businesswomen reached 98,853 in July 2018.

They are mainly in the services sector, operating in small businesses such as fashion, interior design, jewellery, cosmetics, clothing, art, and other professional services in the fields of education, event management, exhibition organisation, public relations and marketing. Other areas include commerce, ICT, real estate, tourism, the restaurant business and manufacturing.

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Awesome, you would say, but where are the real-life examples?

Let us take a deeper look into two start-ups, how they work in Saudi Arabia and the goals of women who are leading them.  

Shirah is the first one that catches our eye first. She has rented an office floor in the up-and-coming Al-Rabie district. What this means, you may ask?

Villas and luxury hotels adjoin, there’s a Hilton’s Kempinski or DoubleTree hotel, deli shops and a Starbucks, where the real estate female entrepreneur gets her coffee to take away in the cup. The district north of the center has a touch of an American metropolis – just a hint: the entrepreneur network is flourishing in the heart of the Saudi capital.

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Shirah founded her office leasing company for female entrepreneurs four years ago. “The market is booming,” she says, soon to move her company into a larger office. The jobs at SheWorks are designed to radiate feminine warmth. In this “soft climate” several successful companies have already been founded, especially in the service sector, says Shirah. There’s Qamrah Alqahtani, who founded her female entrepreneur-event management company out of Sheworks.

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Ghaida Al Mutairi, on the other hand, wants to introduce female workers to mostly male employers. For the company Glowork she organizes job exchanges especially for women. When she first started several years ago, she was accused on social media of luring women out of the house. Meanwhile, the event she manages is part of the new reality.

In the Faisaliah Center, a luxury shopping center with conference rooms, offices and a fine dining restaurant in the center of the capital, Al Mutairi has already brought several thousand women to Saudi companies six times.

In the fall, the three-day job market visited a total of 37,000 women seeking employment, who were wooed by more than 90 companies.

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Female graduates`s choices in the job market

Ten percent of the convention’s visitors found a job, says Al Mutairi. For the past seven years, her company has been hiring 35,000 women in jobs, with plenty of jobs to do from home on the computer.

Even if entrepreneurship is a new trend for the Saudi society, Saudi women are part of it and have begun excelling at it.

What is your excuse?

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