The Prince Mohammed Bin Salman College of Business and Entrepreneurship (MBSC) along with the Babson Global Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership recently released the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Kingdom of Saudi Arabia National Report 2020-21. The GEM report, which charts levels of entrepreneurial motivation and activity across the globe, ranked Saudi Arabia among the top 7 countries out of 44 nations, positioning the Kingdom among the world’s most elite entrepreneurial nations.
The report charts the Kingdom’s progress in setting the stage for entrepreneurial opportunities and culture. Ninety percent of Saudis surveyed in the GEM report agree or strongly agree that it is easy to start a business, placing the Kingdom in top position among GEM economies. Further, experts surveyed rated both the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the response of entrepreneurs first among GEM economies. And in another first, Saudi Arabia is now the only nation among 23 high-income GEM economies with higher startup rates for women than men.
Across the globe, entrepreneurs reported a worsening income due to the pandemic, and this was also true in Saudi Arabia. Yet, despite the turbulent context, Saudi Arabia’s total rate of startup activity increased from 14 percent of the population in 2019, to 17 percent in 2020. Coupled with this, Saudi Arabia reported the highest rate of market confidence, with 80 percent seeing opportunities to start a business as a result of the changes brought about by the pandemic.
The report reveals that total entrepreneurial activity in Saudi Arabia has increased by 24 percent compared to 2019, regardless of the pandemic’s profound impact on entrepreneurship. The Kingdom recorded a 65 percent increase in business ownership over the past three years. The report also shows that more than 90 percent of adults see entrepreneurship as a favorable career choice, and a third of Saudis are keen on launching a business within the next three years.
Fahd Al-Rasheed, vice chairman of MBSC’s board of trustees, and president of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, said: “Our ambition stated in Vision 2030 is for Saudi Arabia to be a world-leading entrepreneurial nation, and with our shared efforts and confidence, we now proudly stand as seventh in the world in entrepreneurial competitiveness. From government, to nonprofits, universities, companies and youth, our country is being energized by an entrepreneurial spirit and mindset. I particularly want to recognize and celebrate the entrepreneurs propelling our country’s tremendous performance, and I invite all Saudis to take pride in this collective excellence and recognition.”
Saleh Ibrahim Alrasheed, governor of the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority (Monsha’at), said: “Saudi Arabia’s steady improvement on the NECI over the past five years is testimony to the success of the Kingdom’s efforts to nurture a thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem in line with the goals of Vision 2030. At Monsha’at, we are proud of our contributions to this achievement through our endeavors aimed at providing support for SMEs and developing the sector in accordance with the best standards.”
Professor Zeger Degraeve, executive dean, MBSC, said: “As testified by the successive GEM Saudi Arabia reports, Saudi Arabia has been building a solid foundation for a robust entrepreneurship ecosystem over the past few years.”
This strong footing enabled the Kingdom to remain resilient even in the face of extreme challenges stemming from the pandemic and provide required support for SMEs and startups.”