Women entrepreneurs and owners of small to mid-sized enterprises (WSMEs) are at an all-time high on a global level, and they are significantly making a difference in terms of creating job opportunities, driving change in their respective communities, and fueling innovation at an unprecedented level. However this is more prevalent in high-income countries, as low-income regions still present certain barriers that women have yet to overcome as opposed to their male counterparts. Taking a look at the Middle East & Africa region, we find some of the highest rates of women’s entrepreneurial intentions in the world; a fact that is supported by the one of the highest ratios of female-to-male Established Business Ownership around the globe. However there is also a contradiction in that region, as some countries have some of the lowest rates as well in that regard, which is largely due to factors like cultural gender beliefs and imposed constraints on women’s participation in the labor market and, subsequently, business ownership.
Today, these constraints are subject to change more than ever.
Although they represent the largest and fastest-growing market in the world, women are still largely considered underserved when it comes to digital finance; even unserved in some cases. There are very few FinTech products & services that were created with women’s specific needs in mind when FinTech first took off, and today these companies are rectifying this notion by listening to their female customers and tailoring their FinTech solutions much more than before. This is primarily because gender diversity and inclusivity are much-needed to make a more balanced business world, but also there are trillions of dollars that are left untapped by these solutions because they have hardly adapted to women’s distinct preferences so far. The female economy is growing at an accelerating rate, and this is due to a variety of factors. Let’s look at these drivers and some facts & figures that reflect this tremendous growth.
One of the main drivers of the female economy today is the fast and easy access to online education, especially after the pandemic has paved the way for more free time and high dependence on online tools & resources. Women are pursuing their passion through taking a variety of online courses and aiming for higher paying careers, and FinTech is one of those industries that women are taking more and more interest in. Digital financial education and skill building through online tools provide a great opportunity and framework for women to close the gender gap.
This factor applies both ways, in that there is untapped potential in catering to women’s specific needs and requirements for FinTech solutions, and also the employment aspect of FinTech which is seeing tremendous growth in that industry. The female population is growing fast and is largely underserved when compared to the male economy, and this provides ample room for improvement on different scales.
There is a prevalent lack of women in key roles in FinTech, in terms of founders, product management, technology teams and other areas, and this has resulted in FinTech startups and entrepreneurs being unconsciously biased at different stages, such as business modelling, product development or even services offered. Although research has shown that there is a somewhat balanced ratio between female and male employees in general, that is not the case when it comes to key strategic roles. With a significantly rising female economy, this skewed view needs to change, and this can be achieved by building gender-diverse and non-biased organizations as a priority for FinTech companies.
After exploring the challenges faced by women in the workforce today, let’s explore some research-based supporting facts and figures that win the argument of behavioral traits, gender diversity and inclusion:
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