Emirati women entrepreneurs female businesses UAE
Women business owners still find themselves confronted with stereotyping of their abilities. That's not all. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Women-owned small and medium sized businesses in the UAE can put themselves up for a $50,000 grant and mentoring chances as part of an initiative from Visa and the Abu Dhabi bank FAB. Applications for the ‘She’s Next’ initiative is open until June 23.

This comes amidst numbers that suggest about half of women entrepreneurs surveyed in the UAE finding access to funds being a major hurdle, with 8 in 10’ having to use personal savings to finance operations.

Under She’s Next, one winner will receive $50,000, a tailored training program, and access to a ‘community of entrepreneurs’ under the Visa-promoted program.

How to make the cut

She’s Next is part of Visa’s efforts to support ‘digitalization of women-owned businesses’ and comes with the launch of a ‘Women SMB Digitalization Index’. It scores businesses based on 5 indicators - online presence, digital payments acceptance, payment security awareness, customer engagement, and customer retention.

In the UAE, the index found women-owned businesses scored highest in digital marketing, online presence and customer engagement.

Other major findings from the Index include:

  1. Accepting digital payments was the top challenge (76% of respondents), followed by lack of family support (75%) and balancing work with family (73%).
  2. Nearly half of those surveyed still face difficulty in raising capital. Securing funds for digitalization was difficult according to 60 per cent of the respondents, owing to high cost associated with such implementation. There was also a lack of investor understanding of related benefits.
  3. Additional funds, if and when available, would be invested in new technologies (43%), advertising and marketing (42%), and creating new products and services (41%).
  4. There was also an issue of being stereotyped, with 53 per cent of women entrepreneurs saying this meant being considered ‘less capable of making tough decisions and leading teams (40%) and being more emotional and less able to separate personal and business matters (38%)’.
  5. Fifty-six per cent said online was their primary sales channel.