Encouraging Entrepreneurship in the Middle East. Start-ups are significant contributors to GDP and the job market but more need to be done to support them. The Middle East has not traditionally been associated with entrepreneurial endeavor but as many of its countries face the need to diversify their economies it may be time to take heed. Micro, small and medium enterprises(MSMEs) account for up to 45 percent of employment in emerging economies and up to 33 percent of GDP, with the numbers significantly higher when taking into account the contribution of SMEs operating in the informal sector, according to World Bank unit the International Finance Corporation. In higher-income economies, SMEs contribute nearly 64 percent to GDP and 62 percent to employment.
What’s Holding Back Entrepreneurs in the Middle East
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has had its fair share of economic challenges over the last few years. The Arab Spring’s political unrest has brought even more economic woes to countries still reeling from the global financial crisis, leading to the mass migration into Europe that we are seeing today. Add high unemployment rates, especially among Arab youth, and the region’s economic challenges might seem insurmountable. The source of these challenges is primarily a lack of opportunity. The public sector, which the region has traditionally relied on to provide employment, cannot really create enough jobs to meet demand today or in the near future. Unemployment levels remain high at around 12 percent, with youth unemployment above 28 percent in the Middle East and 30 percent in North Africa—the highest rate in the world.
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