The business landscape across the world continues to be dominated by men, despite the well-known benefits of gender parity. A recent report by the World Economic Forum states that at the current pace it will take another 257 years to bridge the gender gap in terms of economic participation. However, some countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, are now making concerted efforts to ensure gender parity by providing women with more financing options, business training, mentoring, and networking opportunities for entrepreneurship.
In the Middle East, 7.6per cent of women are early-stage entrepreneurs compared with 11.8 per cent of men. According to the UAE’s Department of Economic Development, 48 per cent of SMEs are headed by women in the country. The UAE has not only pledged $50million to the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative Fund but also gender quality as one of its sustainable development goals. Despite this, the recent Campaign Middle East’s Power List did not include one woman.
Several studies have pointed out that with more women setting up SMEs and gender gap bridging, the MENA region could add $2.7 trillion to the economy by 2025. This includes women-led PR agencies who are well prepared to meet the demand for specialised services, such as public relations, marketing communications, social media, and experiential marketing.
The role of the communications industry is bound to increase in today’s technology-driven highly connected world. Strategic communication planning is of paramount importance and new SMEs need it more than ever. Every business, small and large, can hugely benefit in terms of growing brand awareness, visibility and exposure by engaging specialised communications agencies and experts. Programmatic PR can amplify any company’s message and attract more clients with the help of digital age tools such as websites, apps and social media platforms.
New SMEs can gain exposure through meaningful media relations. Communication experts can strategise and plan press conferences, product launches, and various other events of an organisation for widespread coverage in media. Once the brand image is built, experts can create content and outreach programmes to keep the positive public perception intact. If a company’s reputation is hit, communication specialists ensure it is completely restored. Equally important is the internal communication for high levels of employee engagement.
All in all, the communications industry can play a constructive and proactive role in ensuring the success of women-owned SMEs. And that is what the PR Academy MENA, a woman-led business - is here for – to empower women to take over these roles and shine beyond the glass ceilings. As studies have shown that Arab women entrepreneurs are fast starting their ventures mostly between the age of 25 and 34.
As these women explore the business world, the communications industry will gain more prominence and engagement to catapult new ventures into the limelight, and we are proud to be a part of this enriching journey.