Only 10 percent Saudi investors are women
Saudi businesswomen and investors continue to devote their efforts and ambitions to leaving their mark on the economic development of the country, despite the obstacles and great difficulties they encounter along the way.
Nadia Ba’ashin confirmed that the ratio of female-led investment is no more than 10 percent.
She said that 15 years ago, King Abdullah called for finding solutions to enable women’s investments, and warned about these investments going to other Gulf countries, or Lebanon, Tunisia, Paris, and London, if these investment funds and efforts were not supported properly.
She said women have a huge amount of funds stacked in banks and more women are increasingly being drawn to invest abroad because of the many obstacles they face in the Kingdom.
Ba’ashin also revealed that 80 percent of businesswomen allocate their investments to sewing, cosmetics, and private school businesses, while 5 percent invest in training programs. Only 15 percent of women are involved in other fields, such as restaurants and cafes.
Despite several decisions taken by the government to help businesswomen, including one to open women’s sections in all government facilities, she said these decisions have not yet been applied. Institutions that have opened female sections are still under the control of men, who deprive women of all powers and opportunities, she added.
Ba’ashin said: “We need to activate the female presence in government facilities, and demand the activation of the women’s departments in the ports facilities, the Ministry of Industry, the various municipalities, and the General Authority for Industrial Lands.”
She urged the authorities to implement the provisions of the royal decree issued in 1994, which calls for the opening of women’s facilities in all government departments. She said she strongly believes that the solution lies in the implementation of the king’s decisions to empower women investors to work and to open doors for them, all of which would have a positive impact in solving the problems of unemployment and in facilitating the role of businesswomen in the economy.
Munira Al-Shenaifi, a businesswoman, said there is a great deal of interest from Saudi businesswomen in all-women coffee shops and restaurants. She also said the royal decree enables Saudi women to work in the field of investment and that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has called for supporting Saudi businesswomen to invest in diverse areas, but the problem remains in the conversion of these decisions to reality.
About the reluctance of Saudi women to participate in industrial and health sectors, Al-Shenaifi argued that these are the best fields in which Saudi businesswomen can achieve real economic development, but a fear of failure holds them back.
Al-Shenaifi has been involved in fields related to organizing exhibitions and bazaars, cosmetics, advertisement, media, and education. She said the king did not limit the ability of Saudi women to take part in various fields, but rather the decisions have been supportive of Saudi women, especially with the entry of women to the Shoura Council and the municipal elections. That said, the proportion of women’s investments is still low compared to men, and this requires the support of Chambers of Commerce, the Ministry of Trade, and training institutions to educate businesswomen about the investment opportunities, she said.
About the obstacles facing women investors, she pointed to the problems which are mostly derived from cultural practices and lack of adequate facilities.