An annual survey exploring the state of entrepreneurism in the Middle East and North Africa has found that once again the majority of respondents (62%) would prefer to be self-employed—but a slew of obstacles, particularly related to financial resources, still remain a major impediment.
The survey, entitled Entrepreneurship in MENA Survey, was conducted by Dubai-based job recruitment website Bayt.com along with online market research company YouGov. Data was collected online between October 1 to October 22 of this year, with 4,570 respondents from the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan and Pakistan.
Last year’s survey found that 71% of respondents preferred to be self-employed—although it should be noted that it was conducted with far fewer participants (715). In 2015, the survey had 8,164 participants, and found that 64% would prefer to be self-employed.
Although the vast majority of respondents in 2017 again reported the desire to be entrepreneurs, 84% of those surveyed were currently employed in the public or private sector. Interestingly, the preference for self-employment was considerably lower in Pakistan (39%), Algeria and the U.A.E. (both at 55%). Overall, 29% of respondents preferred to work at a company, versus being self employed.
Respondents selected “personal fulfillment” (53%) and “freedom to choose work-life balance” (41%) as the top reasons for preferring to be self-employed. For those who prefer to work at a company, earning regular income and learning new skills emerged as the top reasons.
Of those who reported that they were already entrepreneurs, nearly 70% started their business with the last 5 years. Among entrepreneurs, 36% said their company was still at the startup stage, while another 22% said their business is established and performing well (22%). Another 22% said their business is established but not performing well.
When it came to those currently employed, 62% said they are currently thinking of starting their own business, while 20% have already tried but failed—with financial related reasons being the main obstacle.
The majority (58%) of respondents claimed it was difficult to start a business in their country of residence, with participants in the Levant and North Africa reporting that in higher numbers. Over half also believe that their respective government could better support entrepreneurs by easing laws and regulations related to starting a business (53%).
The survey concluded that, “Being an entrepreneur is looked as a favorable career by respondents in the MENA region where a majority of respondents who are not self-employed aspire to become entrepreneurs. However, there are several barriers and gaps, particularly financial ones, preventing them from doing so.”
Forbes Middle East