Entrepreneurship and SMEs in the MENA region

22-08-2022 12:29 PM

BY Renad A. Dhayyat

With more than half of its population under the age of 25, the MENA area has one of the youngest labor forces in the world. There are tremendous prospects, but there are also formidable challenges. As seen in the West after World War II and in China and other emerging economies today, a large motivated generation of young working people may push growth and wealth for entire countries. However, for society to reap the benefits, the working population needs ample employment and advancement possibilities. However, producing these jobs and opportunities promptly in sufficient numbers will be a challenge for the MENA area. Unemployment is a major problem in the region; with rates reached the high double digits in many countries. The region risks losing its brightest young people to emigration if this chance is not taken, and social upheaval is always a risk when huge numbers of young people lack prospects.

One way to speed up job creation in the MENA region is to encourage people to start their own businesses even with low budgets. Start-ups do not provide jobs only, but they can also have a big impact on the economy as a whole. These benefits include multiple sources of innovation, more competition, efficiency and productivity, economic flexibility and adaptability, job creation, supply chain development, growth seeds, and more people being included in developing economy. In fact, once start-ups grow into small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), they would be a major source for jobs opportunities, and increase the gross domestic product (GDP) and income per capita.

A significant issue is required to be addressed as most of the owners are home-based businesses (which is a widely spread form of entrepreneurship in MENA region) a long with small/medium business, is the lack of expertise of these in the field.

There are various strategies and plans developed to help these businesses, in addition to the support that they have right now. This is due to the fact that working on such endeavors of these entrepreneurs would surely be in the interest of strengthening the economy of any given MENA country.

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