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38% of startups registered in 2016 are owned by Saudi women

Ghassan Al-Sulaiman
DAMMAM: Nearly 40 percent of startups launched in Saudi Arabia in 2016 are owned by women, “which highlights how the role of women in economic development has flourished,” said the Governor of the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Ghassan Al-Sulaiman.
“Since its establishment, the General Authority for SMEs has been working in two directions: Tracking the challenges faced by small enterprises and starting where others have left off,” he said.
“In the first direction, we have conducted several workshops for 2000 enterprises in order to identify their weaknesses, while in the second direction, we have studied the experience of almost 18 countries focused on excellent companies which are likely to have a bright future.”
Al-Sulaiman also pointed out that, as in the case of developed countries, Saudi Arabia needs strong small enterprises which will contribute to serving large corporations, especially in the presence of new sectors — such as mining, sports and tourism — that need the services and products of SMEs. “There are also large projects looking for a greater contribution from SMEs.”
He said the authority was in the final stage of preparing a strategy for the development of the SME sector, and part of it will be allocated for financing SMEs. “There are different ideas for the financing mechanism as well as a few new proposals, and I expect the strategy to be submitted to the Council of Economic and Development Affairs and to the Cabinet within 45 days,” he said.
The Minister of Commerce and Investment, Majid Al-Qasabi, said: “SMEs are an engine of economic growth, and thus the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 aims to develop this sector and raise its participation in the macro economy from 20 percent to 35 percent, which is expected to provide 500,000 to 700,000 job opportunities by 2030.
“The Ministry of Commerce and Investment has focused on establishing the legal infrastructure for doing business, and so it tried during the past period to ensure that the laws and regulations are encouraging, motivating and comprehensive for investments.
“Thus, the ministry has participated in amending the government procurement system to ensure the participation of SMEs, in addition to amending the bankruptcy, commercial mortgage and commercial franchise systems, which will allow SMEs to expand across the Kingdom, and all these systems are in their final stages awaiting to be issued.”
Al-Qasabi said the ministry was keen on fighting bureaucracy, and that a committee, “Tayseer”, with members from the Council of Economic and Development Affairs has been formed to improve the business environment.

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