The Impact of Women's Empowerment on Saudi Entrepreneurship

Shuaa Alshmry - Al-Ahsa Track
This article was written by a Youth Voice program participant. Youth Voice Program is an enriching dialogue program that aims to engage Saudi Youth from all around the Kingdom in several seminars, discussion meetings and training. It focuses mainly on critical thinking and persuasive communication skills.

"Empowering women and young people are two main cornerstones for achieving sustainable growth." This quote by Crown Prince, His Highness Mohammed bin Salman, which is cherished by all Saudi women, may be the best way to start this article. His statement is not formed of mere words. It is so much more. Each word reflects the continuous support and ongoing effort that preserves the rights of women and involves them in all kinds of decision-making. As His Highness put it, women make up half of society. Hence, they must do what they deem appropriate for the community in which they live. This empowerment has been a beacon of hope lit with the launch of Saudi Vision 2030 on April 25, 2016. Its light still shines to this day and will keep glowing for a long time to come.

In light of the entrepreneurship sector's growth and prosperity, not only in the Kingdom but in the whole world, one question keeps coming to mind concerning women's empowerment: Can Saudi women truly impact the entrepreneurship sector's growth, especially given their empowerment on several social or political fronts and their encouragement to assume senior and leadership positions within the Kingdom? In this article, we seek to illustrate the impact generated by women empowerment in entrepreneurship, currently dubbed the most attractive and active sector, while relying on our ambitious Vision. First, we set out to define Saudi women empowerment and entrepreneurship. Then, we discuss the manifestations of this empowerment and the role of the Kingdom in supporting women across all sectors, especially the entrepreneurship sector and since numbers reflect facts, they are leveraged here to back up our arguments. Finally, we shed light on two examples of inspiring Saudi female entrepreneurs who started from scratch over the past few years.

The term "empowerment" often pops into mind, despite its varying definitions. Almaany dictionary defines it as "the process of empowering someone to succeed." This word holds an even higher status and importance since it is mentioned in the Holy Quran through Allah Almighty's words: {Allah has promised those of you who believe and do good works that He will indeed make them successors in the land as He made those who were before them successors, and that He will indeed establish their religion for them; that which He has approved for them, and will exchange safety for them after their fear} {An-Nur: 55}. One key idea here is that societies are no strangers to empowerment. This concept emerged ages ago for the main purpose of protecting society members from persecution. Saudi women empowerment can be defined as a process that grants women their rights and ability to control their own lives and pursue their own interests. This entails supporting women, helping them get access to the resources they need, and promoting their skills and strengths. These efforts actually prepare them to occupy high positions across many sectors and allow them to participate in the Kingdom's decision-making process.

The second concept is that of entrepreneurship. It is a sector that was and remains in high demand, ever since it was coined in the seventeenth century by the French thinker and economist Jean-Baptiste Say. This concept of entrepreneurship has been able to change trends and add a creative and innovative element to the labor market, spreading and extending its impact to other economies around the world. Although the concept of entrepreneurship is well understood by most researchers, many inaccuracies still confuse them. Therefore, it was necessary to include here a clear definition. Perhaps the person who best explained the concept of entrepreneurship is Mr. Ahmed Al-Saleh, fellow consultant for small and medium enterprises in the United States. Al-Saleh compared entrepreneurship to a story that is made of three main scenes. The first and most important one is where the entrepreneur has unique and distinguished thinking. His/her unique ideas eventually push him/her to realize this part of the story. The second presents an untapped gap in the labor market for which the entrepreneur finds a solution and improves in his own way. As for the third and final one, it is concerned with innovation. Not every person who decides to launch their own project can be called an entrepreneur and here lies the true distinction. An entrepreneur's idea must be innovative and add a competitive value to the market. The entrepreneur must come up with a new idea or find an effective solution to an existing problem. If a project owner is living these three scenes, it is safe to say that his/her entrepreneurship journey has begun!

The most prominent manifestations of women empowerment in the Kingdom are expressed through their participation in many areas that foster the economy's development, such as their participation rate in the labor market, which has almost doubled from 17% to 31.8%, exceeding thus the 30% target set by Vision 2030. Moreover, the Kingdom has played a significant role in assigning women to many high-ranking positions, reaching 30% of middle and senior management positions in both the public and private sectors over the past year of 2020. Empowerment has not stopped here. It also rather tackled women's ability to nominate themselves for Chambers of Commerce and Municipal Councils. Saudi women have become an added value and an effective part of Shura Councils and diplomatic posts. Furthermore, the Kingdom has paid special attention to Saudi female entrepreneurs and created many programs and specialized training centers to help those interested to join this field. The nation also offered them consultation, embraced emerging projects, and helped them receive necessary funding using the latest methods and technologies, eventually improving the Saudi economy, providing many job opportunities, and reducing unemployment.

Today, we can truly feel the impact of this empowerment movement through the Kingdom's achievement of one of its desired goals under its ambitious Vision 2030, which is to increase the number of Saudi female entrepreneurs and prepare them to compete globally and even reach the highest positions in the entrepreneurial world, which has already become the case.  Deputy Minister for Foreign Economic Affairs, Eiman Al-Mutairi, indicated that women entrepreneurs now constitute 20% of total entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia. Over the past year, the Global Entrepreneurship Research Association conducted a study of 43 countries and territories around the world. Results showed that the Kingdom ranked second globally in terms of entrepreneurship with 17.7%, outperforming the United States (13.6%), South Korea (10.6%), Germany (4.4%), and other developed countries. 

Numerous Saudi female entrepreneurs have emerged in the past few years, the most prominent of which may well be Saudi female entrepreneur Emon Shakoor, CEO of Blossom Accelerator and the youngest in her field. After studying neuroscience at the University of California, her ambition and passion led her to pursue entrepreneurship. This is the first accelerator of its kind in the Kingdom to be particularly concerned with women empowerment and the promotion of inclusiveness in the entrepreneurial world. Emon was determined to inspire, support, and provide women with all the required educational and financial resources. In one of her TV interviews, she expressed her desire of placing many female entrepreneurs at the wheel of their own projects in the coming years through her Blossom Accelerator. And don't we all share Emon's dreams and aspirations?

If we look more closely, there is also Sarah Al Ayed who was one of the first female entrepreneurs in the Kingdom. Her success story was an inspiration to many other Saudi women. Twenty years ago, Sarah took her very first steps in the entrepreneurial world. She established TRACCS with her brother Mohammad and is currently the company's Head of Strategic Affairs. Moreover, Sarah devoted her efforts to supporting and empowering Saudi women in the entrepreneurial field. She guided and trained more than 120 women and presided the Entrepreneurship Competition in Jeddah, with the number of female beneficiaries reaching 60,000, including female entrepreneurs and emerging students. In 2013, Sarah was listed in Forbes Magazine among the most influential women in family businesses in the Middle East. In 2019, she was appointed member of the Board of Directors of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce & Industry (JCCI) by the Minister of Commerce, His Excellency Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi.

Sarah and Emon are two inspiring examples, indeed. However, we cannot forget the efforts made by hundreds of other women to strengthen the Kingdom's position as a prominent entrepreneurship hub.

In conclusion, after learning about the two concepts of empowerment and entrepreneurship and exploring the many manifestations of Saudi women empowerment based on actual indicators and real-life examples, we can say in short that Saudi women have had a clear impact on entrepreneurship and its growth. They are a key driver that ought to be supported and empowered in order to leverage all their energy and capabilities. We expect an increase in these indicator results in the period to come as well as more achievements to be made in the entrepreneurial field. We wish for the men and women of Saudi Arabia to walk hand in hand, receive equal opportunities for the future of this great nation, and work together to achieve its economic growth, thus competing together against the rest of the world.



  1. Syrian researchers, 2016. Entrepreneurship principles. Retrieved from ‎
  2. Osama Darras, 2015. The Impact of Business Entrepreneurship on Industrial Companies Listed on Amman Financial Market on Social Responsibility. Retrieved from
  3. Al-Saleh, Ahmed, 2017. What is entrepreneurship? Retrieved from
  4. Official website of TRACCS. Retrieved from
  5. Female Entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia.
  6. Female Entrepreneurs out in the World. Retrieved from 
  7. Saudi Vision 2030. Retrieved from
  8. Haifa Bint Abdul Rahman, 2015. Dimensions of Saudi Women's Empowerment. Retrieved from  
  9. Emon Shakoor. The Youngest Saudi Female Entrepreneur. Retrieved from
  10. Almaany Dictionary. Retrieved from
  11. Blossom Accelerator. Retrieved from

Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development. Retrieved from


Stay up to date

Sign up to our newsletter and get the latest on programs and events