Forbes Middle East


This Gulf Country Has More Women-Led Startups Than Silicon Valley

Mary Sophia
This Gulf Country Has More Women-Led Startups Than Silicon Valley

California’s Silicon Valley has become the cornerstone of entrepreneurial activity, with some of the world’s most successful companies being based out of the precinct. However female-led businesses are yet to fully flourish.

But one Gulf country is outpacing even Silicon Valley when it comes to fostering businesses with female founders.

According to a report by StartUp Genome in partnership with the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, 18% of Bahrain’s startups are founded by women. This was far ahead of Silicon Valley, which had just 16% of women-led startups and London, where the figure dropped to 15%.

The country also ranked among the top 10 startup ecosystems, with the largest share of female founders, showing that it is gradually bridging the gap between men and women-led businesses.

Research comes as Bahrain shores up its infrastructure, trying to lure startups – especially in the fintech sector – to set up in the country. Last year, the country opened Bahrain Fintech Bay, a facility designed to accelerate the development of fintech. It has also created a regulatory sandbox that will allow fintech companies to test their ideas.

“This report draws on the views of the people who know best – entrepreneurs and founders,” says Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board.

“In a very short time, Bahrain has emerged as a leading ecosystem, with particular strength in FinTech. With both female founders and women taking leadership roles throughout the ecosystem, Bahrain is a dynamic and diverse market at the head of new trends that are shaping the way society and business operates.”

While Bahrain has attracted fintech startups to come set up, the country faces stiff competition from neighboring UAE where both Dubai and Abu Dhabi too have established hubs targeting the fintech firms.

At Forbes Middle East, I write about some of the most successful entrepreneurs and companies that are shaping the regional economies. I’ve covered industries such as banking, technology, real estate, healthcare, aviation and travel during my time at Forbes Middle East. A seasoned journalist with an extensive experience in business reporting, I’ve interviewed cabinet ministers and CEOs to get the inside scoop. A long-term resident of the UAE, I have previously worked as a reporter for Gulf Business and have interned at The National and BBC News Middle East.

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