Women’s Entrepreneurship From A Global Perspective
I spent one of my evenings in Riyadh this week at the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA). I spent the evening with Seema Khan, SAGIA’s Chief Strategy Officer, and a group of about 20 women entrepreneurs to discuss their companies and the challenges of starting and growing an entrepreneurial business in the Kingdom. The women ran web-based service companies, catering and baking businesses, fashion design and graphic design firms, and had many ideas for other possible ventures.
To start the evening, I gave a talk on women’s entrepreneurship from a global perspective and described some case examples of a variety of successful women-led businesses such as iRobot and Build-a-Bear. I shared some observations from my meetings in Riyadh so far, including the difficulties that women have registering and setting up their businesses, the significant limits on the types of businesses women are allowed to start, and the difficulties recruiting and retaining qualified female staff.
There was more than an hour of Q&A and discussion after the talk. The entrepreneurs had lots of questions around how to find a good business idea, what it takes to do a feasibility analysis, and what the options were for financing a young company. Like entrepreneurs anywhere they were enthusiastic, full of ideas, and focused on making their young ventures succeed and grow.
We adjourned to a dinner of traditional Saudi cuisine hosted by SAGIA and continued talking about business, entrepreneurship, life in Riyadh and Boston, and the challenges women face everywhere. It was a great evening!
Adjunct Lecturer in Entrepreneurship