CAIRO: Going by the success of the “Women in Tech” competition, it is evident that female-led startups are set to revolutionize Saudi Arabia’s technology sector.
The competition that was recently held in Riyadh saw entrepreneurs undergo an eight-week incubator program, showcasing innovative ideas in various sectors, including fintech, health tech, property tech and edutainment.
In collaboration between global banking group Standard Chartered and Saudi-based investment firm Falak Investment Hub, the program hosted eight startups with the top three being awarded a total of $50,000 in equity-free grants.
Sahm, a stock trading app, claimed first place and received $25,000. Nqoodlet, a fintech company, bagged second position with a prize of $15,000, and Chefaa, a health-tech platform, secured third place and received $10,000.
Speaking with Arab News, Jawaher Al-Yahya, the CEO of Sahm, said that the company will continue to optimize and refine its product to achieve the right market fit.
She further added that women faced difficulty in gaining experience in leadership positions in addition to a lack of funding and resources.
Sahm will utilize its funding to invest in marketing initiatives to increase brand awareness as well as enhance product capabilities, Al-Yahya reiterated.
Replying to a question regarding hurdles women in the technology sector are faced with, CEO of Falak Investment Hub Adwa Al-Dakheel attributed the pursuit of perfection as the major barrier for women entering the tech scene.
“Seeking perfection in innovation and startups means not launching in the right market timing and waiting for extreme validation instead of building upon continuous yet smaller validations,” Al-Dakheel told Arab News.
Doaa Aref, CEO of Chefaa, and Mai Abdulwahab, founder of Nqoodlet, both said that lack of funding is the main barrier for women in tech globally.
Awards were distributed during a special event, under the patronage of the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority, known as Monsha’at, in the presence of its Deputy Gov. Saud Al-Sabhan.
Al-Sabhan delivered a speech during the event about the importance of women entrepreneurs stating that Monsha’at contributed to increasing the number of female-led enterprises to more than 467,000.
“The most significant shift in our landscape in the Kingdom will be the change in sentiment, investment appetite and innovation. Top founders will move to Saudi Arabia to grow and start their businesses here, and the world’s biggest investors will follow,” Al-Dakheel said.