Amman, November 18, 2018 – In a round-table discussion convening top entrepreneurs and leading business women and men in Jordan, Endeavor held an event on Sunday, November 18th, on the social, economic and structural challenges, obstacles and barriers female entrepreneurs face in starting and scaling their businesses in Jordan, and the solutions that can be offered by the entrepreneurial ecosystem to ensure women having equal opportunities and benefits. The event, which was held in partnership with ‘World of Letters’ – Women as Partners in Progress, and sponsored by Bank al Etihad, came as Endeavor Jordan’s contribution to the Global Entrepreneurship Week (November 12 - 18).
The discussion points raised by the round-table came as a result of the qualitative research conducted to identify the main social and economic challenges females face during their entrepreneurial journey.
The event commenced with a welcome note by Reem Goussous, Endeavor Jordan’s Managing Director, who noted: “The number of female entrepreneurs comprises only 22% of Endeavor Jordan’s current portfolio. We clearly see the challenges these women face, through our regular interaction with them, and these challenges are distinctly different than those faced by men. We need to collaboratively identify ways to reshape this experience for women”.
Mayyada Abu-Jaber, CEO of World of Letters, who co-facilitated the stated, "there are two types of obstacles that are specific to women, an extrinsic such as home environment restrictions, and intrinsic such as self-doubt and lack of confidence".
The welcome note was followed by a presentation by socioeconomic researcher, Shereen Abbady, who described the current entrepreneurial framework conditions in Jordan, social and individual attributes towards entrepreneurship, and psychological and demographic motivation. She highlighted the importance of entrepreneurship as a timely tool for Jordan's development given its slow economic growth and high levels of unemployment – mainly among women.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report, entrepreneurship has declined in recent years in Jordan, and has not been specifically promising for women. According to the report, Jordan’s Total Entrepreneurship Activity (TEA) reached 8.2% in 2016, dropping from 18.3% in 2004. The report also shows that one out of every five individuals (males and females) who are starting a new or running an existing business, has discontinued a business in the last year, and for women, this is instigated by: market conditions and lack of profitability (61%), family obligations (16%), and access to finance (13%).
The research confirmed that in Jordan, the processes and policies of business incubators, accelerators and support programs are unbiased. Women and men are basically treated equally throughout the selection and incubation process. However, only one-fourth of incubated entrepreneurs are females.
Through the in depth interviews and the validation workshop, research identified five main challenges that hold back the woman’s entrepreneurial journey. These include: Investor Reluctance to invest in women-led start-ups, which leave women entrepreneurs challenged to meet investor expectations regarding their ability to balance their roles as wives, mothers, and business women at the same time. Access to Finance, which is primarily hindered by the lack of knowledge, access to wealth, and collateral that women experience. Stereotyping and conforming, as research shows that social values do not encourage entrepreneurship as a career choice in general and especially among women. Confidence, as self-doubt, fear of failure and low levels of entrepreneurial self-efficacy were evident in the findings as feelings that women need to cope with when starting a business. Furthermore, Legal Liability is a challenge more considerable for women given social norms that make it harder on them to establish fair commercial transactions. Thus, suggesting that women in Jordan face several indirect challenges that reduce their chances of receiving equal benefits from opportunities within Jordan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Endeavor aims to support high-impact entrepreneurs in building thriving scale-ups that create quality jobs, generate high wages, and impact sustainable national economic growth, where a prominent part of this is done by conducting research papers tackling sensitive and timely issues pertaining to challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Jordan. Hence, this research effort aims to propose measures to help reshape the entrepreneurial journey of females in Jordan, to enable more women to become successful entrepreneurs.