Saudi development Syahrel Azha Hashim/Getty Images

Victoires et combats des startups arabes

DUBAÏ – La récente conférence STEP, à Dubaï – le plus important rassemblement consacré aux startups dans toute la région Moyen-Orient Afrique du nord (MOAN) – a fait beaucoup parler d’elle. Ce qui semble indiquer que l’univers local des startups est parvenu à l’âge adulte. Mais les entrepreneurs de la région MOAN sont encore confrontés, sur la route du progrès, à d’importants obstacles culturels.

On aurait tort de sous-estimer le succès des startups régionales. Selon l’accélérateur Wamda, plus d’une douzaine de startups – dont Bayt, Careem, Marka VIP, Namshi, News Group, Propertyfinder et Wadi.com – verraient aujourd’hui leur valorisation s’élever à plus de 100 millions de dollars. Souq.com, entreprise de 3 000 employés, fondée en 2005, est sur le point de devenir la première « licorne » de la région, c’est-à-dire la première startup valorisée à plus d’un milliard de dollars.

L’environnement régional n’est pourtant guère propice à l’entreprenariat. Au-delà des guerres, du terrorisme et de l’agitation politique dont souffre le monde arabe – sans parler des difficultés habituelles rencontrées par les entrepreneurs loin de la Silicon Valley, à savoir la pénurie de capital-risque disponible, la rareté des talents ou le manque d’infrastructures –, se posent toutes sortes de problème structurels.

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