The above stance collaborates with the fact that Saudi women are well educated, ambitious and determined. In the last 40 years, the Saudi government has built an educational infrastructure that reduced illiteracy rates, especially in women. Because of a favorable environment for entrepreneurship, the possession of advanced education and the presence of still a very limited amount of employment opportunities for women in Saudi Arabia, the interest for entrepreneurship are very high among women.
Furthermore, the analysis is in line with the postulation that much of the wealth in Saudi is under the control of women; women entrepreneurs have easy access to informal funding. Since many Saudi women take part in running the family businesses, they own about 40% of those companies run by families as silent partners. Overall, Saudi women are estimated to have cash funds worth SR45 billion.
Businesses Saudi women mostly own
Respondents on who should permit Saudi women to open a business
It is seen that majority of the respondents are of the view that family members should be the ones to permit women in Saudi to operate business organizations.
Family members, including husbands, have always influenced how and when Saudi women commence and setup their businesses. Male guardianship is needed to start and run businesses by Saudi women, which appears to be a challenge in running businesses. That is, the woman entrepreneur’s husband or father or any other designated male would be the chosen owner of the businesses. So in the case of death of the guardian in business the guardianship need to be transferred to another male, which might create problems in women’s businesses (McElwee and Al-Riyami, 2003). Proper legal structures need to be in place for safeguarding the investments of Saudi businesswomen. Positive and supportive responses from the government and other authorities could help them in overcoming some of the barriers that exist in the society. Despite the social restrictions, Saudi women have entered in to small scale businesses and studies indicate that about 20,000 business endeavours are possessed by Saudi women (Doumato, 2010) or “12% of all Saudi companies, including 16% of the large manufacturing firms” (AlMunajjed, 2010, p. 346). The legal support taken by the women entrepreneurs for capitalizing on the initiatives taken by Prince Abdulla aimed at promoting female run businesses (Metcalfe, 2008) is a positive step in overcoming restrictions associated with guardianship.
Like any other developing country, in Saudi Arabia also, the primary role of the women is considered to be that of a wife and a mother. Such traditional or conservative attitudes or belief systems that are prevalent in the Saudi Arabian society acts as a major barrier for women entrepreneurs to start businesses, expand and diversify their businesses (Dechant and Al Lamky, 2005). Absence of adequate facilities for childcare also could create problems for women entrepreneurs. So it becomes difficult for the women entrepreneurs to put enough time and resource into their businesses.
Respondents according to if driving in Saudi have influence over businesswomen
How to overcome driving influence on business women in Saudi
Driving being banned for women in the country, Saudi businesswomen are to left with the option of hiring a driver for moving around which often adds to the expense. Unless and until women are allowed similar footing and freedom like men and Saudi government makes and enforces favorable policies for women, the cultural and legal challenges are hard to be fully overcome.
Responses to whether ‘Wakil’ affect business opening
The implication of the above data is that, it is widely believed that ‘Wakil’ affect those who intend to open new businesses in Saudi.
In this view, Welsh, Memili and Al-Sadoon (2012) have argued that the biggest obstacle of all faced by women entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia is the obligation to acquire permission from the 'Wakil' before going ahead with any business venture. 'Wakil' is a male guardian who can be a relative or a total stranger acting publicly on behalf of the businesswoman and has full authority and power to take business related decisions and access to the business assets. Besides, although they have a university degree, but the educational system in Saudi Arabia does not educate women with business skills and business relevant education to support economic growth of women in the country. For instance, a survey conducted by Alturki and Braswell came up with the finding that 80% Saudi businesswomen were in need of financial management knowledge. There are other obstacles like the requirement to appoint a male manager. As a result this requirement subjects the women entrepreneurs to intense humiliation and mental stress resulting out of constant interference and harassment by male managers. This requirement also costs an added expense and limits the businesswomen's freedom to make individual decisions. Women entrepreneurs also face very limited licensing options with many business activities popular among women not being listed in the official licensing categories (Lavelle and Al Sheikh, 2013).
Responses to how ‘Wakil’ affect the opening of business.
The interpretation of the data above shows that majority of people are of the view that Wakil affects business due to tis long period of processing documents.
Responses to whether universities in Saudi provide business education equally to Saudi men and women
The data presentation in Table 8 shows that 60 or 33.9% of the respondents say that Universities in Saudi provide business education equally to men and women in the country. 22 or 12.4% of them disagree with this view. However, 72 or 40.7% of the respondents are of the view that it depends on the subject, 23 or 13% agree to the view, but say business education for women is worse than business education for men.
Hence, the data presentation shows that majority of the respondents agree that Saudi universities provide business education equally to men and women, but this depends on the subject under consideration.
The education equally between male and female in Saudi may be equally provided; however in some courses male dominance is recorded. Saudi women understand the importance of education for self-aggrandizement; especially women that are aspiring to be entrepreneurs take initiatives to learn the technical, financial and communication skills to successfully run their businesses. Many Saudi businesswomen pursue courses that are helpful to aid their learning in specific business skills. According to Troemel & Strait (2013) the 2006 statistics of Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia, 28.2% of women focus on learning business disciplines in comparison with 2.9% men.
Furthermore, For the Saudi women, accessibility to professional, technical and higher education have improved drastically over the years. Troemel and Strait (2013, p. 348) has opined that “Saudi businesswomen also tend to pursue degrees that provide them with specific skills that can be applied to entrepreneurship”. This could increase the opportunities available to the Saudi women in employment as well as in starting businesses. Saudi government has improved the higher education facilities and options available to Saudi women (Islam, 2014). If this facility is properly utilized by the Saudi women they could gain the needed expertise and could transform into expert entrepreneurs of the future. Alturki and Braswell, (2010) opined that there has been phenomenal increase in the number of enrolments of Saudi women in technical and higher education segment. Studies of the Ministry of Education indicate that about “58% of Saudi businesswomen are university graduates compared to only 21.3% of the national workforce” (Troemel and Strait, 2013, p. 348). Such opportunities could help in broadening the knowledge base of the Saudi women and could result in cultural level changes in the society.
Responses to where Saudi businesswomen get their funds to run their businesses
The data above thus shows that majority of Saudi businesswomen get their fund from bank loans.
The frequency table analysis is in line with the fact earlier presented in the literature of this report that since obtainment of loans from banks is often a challenging process for Saudi women to start a business; they either cash in on their personal savings or family funding or borrow from close friends to start their business ventures. 8 out of 10 women fund their businesses with personal savings and 14.5% women take loans and financial help from either family or close friends. 8.6% women get loans or grants from government funds or philanthropic organizations while only 7.6% women take personal loans from external sources (Troemel and Strait, 2013). Most of the women business entrepreneurs either involve husbands or uncles as their business partners or advisors so that they can easily get the legal paper works and licensing done without much hassle.
Responses to whether Saudi government provides support to women who own business in the country
Hence, the data has shown that Saudi government gives support to businesswomen in the country.
Forms of support that Saudi government gives to businesswomen
Thus, the data has shown that Saudi government majorly gives funding support to businesswomen in the country.
The report has shown that Saudi government plays prominent role in the development of business women in their different business trades. Governmental support for enhancing external funding options could assist female businesses to flourish in a long way; this can create several channels of business expansion. It was seen that the availability of internal funding options could make small scale businesses attractive to Saudi women. The Saudi Arabian male population seems to support the small scale business options for women as it provides the female enough opportunity to manage work with household duties and child care without any major issues. Small scale businesses require lesser capital investment and offers flexibility in the working hours. So they could get greater support from family and friends (Troemel and Strait, 2013). Internal funding options available to most of the Saudi women form a real encouragement for starting small scale businesses. As it might be difficult for them to make available the external funding options of financial institutions, the availability of personal funds and funds from family and friends could be a great relief for the female entrepreneurs of Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, the assistance provided by the Chamber of Commerce opens up external funding options for the Saudi women entrepreneurs and increases their networking capabilities (Shmailan, 2014).
Responses to whether permission to travel overseas affects the business of Saudi women
The data frequency table above shows that 80 or 40.8 % of the respondents agree that permission to travel overseas affects the business of women in Saudi, while 98 or 57.7% of them disagree with this view.
This means that according to our data presentation, permission to travel abroad does not affect business of women in Saudi.
This frequency table also shows the level of interference the female and male in the Saudi society have over the freedom of women to have liberty to make their own decisions. Saudi women face many challenges as women entrepreneurs face in the world, especially in conservative countries where women are looked upon as mother and wife primarily and are expected to stay indoors. Also, they have to look after their household first instead of going out and work. Furthermore, understanding the challenge and opportunity for Saudi women have some impact for example, they have to take permissions from the family in their business, which might impact on the women itself and lead to delay in their business procedures. In other words, as Olga (2013) States: “Women are expected to have the consent of their guardian (a husband usually, or otherwise a father or close male relative) for virtually every activity—including work, school, and travel ’’
Women face innumerable challenges such as, cultural barriers and family resistance while starting a business. According to Minkus-McKenna (2009) till date, Saudi women are prohibited from driving a car, starting a business on their own, investing in real estate and purchasing a home. They cannot even lodge a crime at the police station without a male guardian. Furthermore, Saudi women are imposed on them a large number of restrictions, especially their mobility.
The data presentation above shows that majority of the respondents (125 out of 177 respondents) agree that they get interferences and harassment from males.
This analysis correlates with the statement that Gender inequality and other gender based discriminations form a challenge to the female entrepreneurs of Saudi Arabia. It is difficult for female run businesses to register greater growth levels in a male dominated business environment. Despite commendable changes in the attitude of the males towards women and their participation in businesses, the Saudi Arabian males are still reluctant in working under a female boss. Such cultural and attitudinal discriminations also act as a major impediment in the path of women entrepreneurs. Social, cultural, economic and political barriers and restrictions affect Saudi Arabian woman entrepreneurs. So they need to have a strong will and able support to overcome these barriers. According to Alturki and Braswell (2010) Saudi women got engaged in small scale businesses in areas where the male dominance were minimal
There are some financial courses that are useful for me to run the business
The data in Table 14 has shown that majority of the respondents (150 out of 177) agree that there are some financial courses useful for them to run their business.
There are enough courses for communication skills to successfully run their businesses
The responses in table 15 shows that majority of the respondents (148 out of 177) agree that there are enough courses for communication skills to successfully run their businesses.
The data from Table 16 shows that the opinions of the respondents are divided. 89 agreed that they have difficulty in applying for business licensing when they want to open a business, 88 disagree with this vie.
Hence, there is no clear majority to determine, except that those who agreed with the view is one respondent more than those who disagree.