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The startup business scene in the Middle East and North Africa: It's blooming!

The startup business scene in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region is vibrant and innovative, but it is also sometimes labelled with misconceptions and stereotypes. So, if you possess some false accusations and fallacy about the Arab startup business scene, we’re about to change them.



The startup business scene in the MENA region is in the process of growing and maturing. Entrepreneurs there are hoping that the stereotypes will fade, or at least evolve.

In this article we shed a light on the growth in the startup business scene in the MENA region in the last couple of years. We also focus on examples of successful startups who were able to succeed despite all the obstacles they faced.


Background of the startup business scene

There are 22 Arab states in MENA region, with a total population of 423 million people. Individuals are inclined to start their own business in the region for various reasons. Such as: more income, greater independence, following their passion, control their career path or getting a better work-life balance. Moreover, entrepreneurs in the region benefit from a market characterized with high levels of smartphone penetration, internet usage, trading power and the presence of a small number of market-dominating corporates and the lack of monopolies.

The major concerns that face entrepreneurs in the region vary. Among procuring finances to start is hiring the wrong people, uncertainty of profit and the possibility that their business idea not being accepted by the customers.

According to Statista, fintech and e-commerce are the leading startup industries in the MENA and the majority of fintech start-ups are based in the Gulf region. They’re followed by Transport & Delivery, which were the third most popular industry in terms total deals in 2018. This prosperous environment and ecosystem deserves attention and provides a perfect opportunity for disruption. Related: You can read the success story of an entrepreneur who started his software development company that started in a MENA country and now expanded worldwide. 


Breaking down the hurdles

Youth are particularly taken away by major success stories like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and college dropouts. Those who started from their garage and made a million-dollar business. They are initially inspired and eager to launch their own startup business themselves. They have high hopes that one day they’ll be as successful. But when it’s time for a reality check, they face dozens of obstacles and deprivations that they weren’t prepared for.

Yet, the startup ecosystem in the MENA region has massively improved over the past couple of years. Governments are particularly keen to see the startup sector expand. This will help them settle the dilemma of high levels of unemployment among their youth population.


Source: Stefano Maruzzi

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