Analysis, Interviews, Opinions

Nearly half of Mena employees mull entrepreneurship: Report

There's a notable inclination towards entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa region with nearly half of surveyed employees inclined to be self-employed or start a business, a survey has found.
The Entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa 2024 survey, conducted by, the Middle East's leading job site, and market research agency YouGov, revealed that out of the 1090 people surveyed, 517 are currently employed, of which 46% are eager to be either self-employed or own a business. This is particularly high in Lebanon 46%, Egypt 54% and Algeria 57%. 
However, a slightly larger fraction, representing 49% of the total respondents, still prefer traditional employment in companies, with the private sector being the most desired workplace for 60% of these individuals. 
Regular income
Those favouring company employment cite the allure of regular income 50%, the opportunity to learn new skills 38%, and employment stability along with benefits like social security and medical insurance 34% as their main motivators. 
Ola Haddad, General Manager at, said: “The entrepreneurial spirit is redefining the future of work in the Mena. With nearly half of the region's entrepreneurs embarking on their business journeys in just the last five years, and over 60% poised to expand their teams, we're witnessing an era where the pursuit of personal fulfillment, community contribution, and work-life balance is not just a dream, but a tangible goal. 
“This wave of entrepreneurial optimism, against the backdrop of seeking more autonomy and meaningful impact, is a testament to a resilience that promises to reshape economies and lives across the region."
Mena Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
On the entrepreneurial front, the driving forces are decidedly more personal and community-focused, with 'personal fulfillment' 45%, the 'freedom to choose work-life balance' 43%, and the 'ability to give back to the community' 40% emerging as top reasons. 
A substantial 45% of current entrepreneurs embarked on their business ventures within the last five years, showcasing a surge in entrepreneurial activities, although they face challenges like underperformance 30% and the hurdles of being at the start-up stage 30%. The pursuit of higher income 31% and better work-life balance 28% are primary motivations behind these entrepreneurial endeavours.
Looking ahead, there's a strong entrepreneurial ambition in the region, with 63% planning to hire in the next year, implying optimism about business growth. Moreover, significant proportions are aiming for expansion, both locally one-third and internationally 24%, despite 55% acknowledging the difficulty of starting a business in their country due to restrictive laws and regulations. 
This sentiment is reinforced by nearly half of the respondents 48% who believe that the government could better support budding entrepreneurs by simplifying these laws.
Financial obstacles
Financial obstacles 43% present the most significant barrier to starting a business, alongside concerns over procuring initial financing 57%, profit uncertainty 35%, and the need for establishing the right contacts 33%. 
Despite these challenges, the spirit of entrepreneurship is perceived positively, with a strong majority viewing entrepreneurs as opportunity-driven 84% and crucial job creators 83%. The consensus advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to embrace risk, with 44% emphasising the importance of not fearing failure. 
Industries such as IT, real estate, and commerce are identified as the most appealing sectors for new business ventures. Success in entrepreneurship is believed to hinge on employing the right people 30%, fostering innovation 26%, and maintaining close customer relations 18%.
Zafar Shah, Account Director at YouGov said: “Our latest research highlights the importance of supporting and encouraging entrepreneurship as a means of boosting job growth and economic development. Entrepreneurs in the Mena region foster a culture of creativity that inspires others to take risks and pursue their own ideas, leading to further innovation and growth in the economy. The insights gathered from this survey can help policymakers and investors create an environment that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Data for the Entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa 2024 was collected online from April 2 to 29, 2024. Results are based on a sample of 1,090 respondents from the following countries: UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Sudan and others.--TradeArabia News Service