Saudi development Syahrel Azha Hashim/Getty Images

De triomfen en tegenslagen van Arabische startups

DUBAI – De recente STEP-conferentie in Dubai – de grootste startup-conferentie voor het Midden-Oosten en Noord-Afrika (de MENA-regio) – heeft veel aandacht getrokken. Dit lijkt erop te duiden dat de startup-scene van de regio volwassen begint te worden. Toch worden veel ondernemers uit de MENA-regio nog steeds geconfronteerd met structurele hindernissen voor hun vooruitgang.

De successen van de startups in de regio mogen niet worden onderschat. Volgens Wamda, een regionaal bedrijvenplatform, genieten ruim tien startups – waaronder Bayt, Careem, MarkaVIP, Namshi, News Group, Propertyfinder, en Wadi.com – nu waarderingen boven de $100 mln. Souq.com, een bedrijf met drieduizend werknemers dat in 2005 is opgericht, staat op het punt de eerste “eenhoorn” van de regio te worden, met een waardering boven de $1 mrd.

Toch is het regionale klimaat nog lang niet ideaal voor ondernemerschap. Afgezien van de oorlogen, het terrorisme en de politieke onrust die de Arabische wereld plagen – om maar te zwijgen van de gebruikelijke problemen waarmee ondernemers buiten Silicon Valley geconfronteerd worden, zoals een gebrek aan toereikend risicokapitaal, talent of infrastructuur – is er sprake van een hele reeks diepgewortelde structurele problemen.

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