Saudi development Syahrel Azha Hashim/Getty Images

Los triunfos y luchas de las empresas emergentes árabes

DUBAI – La conferencia STEP, el mayor evento para empresas emergentes o startups de los países de Oriente Próximo y África del Norte (MENA), se celebró recientemente y atrajo gran atención de los medios. Parecía indicar un momento de maduración del sector en la región.  Sin embargo, sus emprendedores todavía enfrentan serios impedimentos estructurales para avanzar.

No se deben subestimar los éxitos de las startups de la región. De acuerdo a Wamda, una plataforma aceleradora regional, más de una docena de ellas, como Bayt, Careem, MarkaVIP, Namshi, News Group, Propertyfinder y Wadi.com, acumulan valoraciones estimadas en más de USD 100 millones. Souq.com, compañía fundada en 2005 y que da empleo a 3.000 personas, va en camino de ser el primer “unicornio” de la región, con una valoración por sobre los USD 1 mil millones.

Sin embargo, el ambiente regional sigue estando muy lejos de facilitar el espíritu emprendedor. Además de las guerras, el terrorismo y las turbulencias políticas que asuelan el mundo árabe (por no mencionar los retos usuales que deben enfrentar los emprendedores fuera de Silicon Valley, como falta de suficiente capital de riesgo, talento o infraestructura), hay una maraña de problemas estructurales profundamente arraigados.

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