Bahrain tops global IT hubs for ratio of female start-up founders

Global Start-up Ecosystem Report says 18% of Bahrain start-ups are founded by women

In a short time, Bahrain has emerged as a leading ecosystem with particular strength in FinTech, H.E. Al Rumaihi observed.
In a short time, Bahrain has emerged as a leading ecosystem with particular strength in FinTech, H.E. Al Rumaihi observed.

Bahrain is one of the top 10 start-up ecosystems with the largest share of female founders, according to the 2019 Global Start-up Ecosystem Report (GSER).

With 18% of its start-ups founded by women, Bahrain topped even internationally recognised startup hubs such as Silicon Valley (16%) and London (15%).

The report, one of the most widely-read research on start-ups, also lauded Bahrain as one of the top 10 ecosystems to watch in FinTech in Europe and the Middle East, as well as a top 15 Global Ecosystem for affordability of qualified talent.

H.E. Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board said, “This report draws on the views of the people who know best – entrepreneurs and founders. In a very short time, Bahrain has emerged as a leading ecosystem with particular strength in FinTech. With both female founders and women taking leadership roles throughout the ecosystem, Bahrain is a dynamic and diverse market at the head of new trends that are shaping the way society and business operates.”

Currently, a group of female leaders in FinTech is helping to steer the country’s FinTech strategy. Leading female Bahraini start-up founders include Hala Sulaiman and Ameera AlQubaiti - co-founders of Alrawi, a successful audiobook start-up and Pitch@Palace Global 3.0 People's Choice 2018 Winner. Furthermore, Bahrain’s Al Waha Fund of Funds, a $100 million fund set up by the Bahrain Development Bank, has an all-female leadership.

In 2018 Bahrain launched FinTech Bay, the Middle East’s leading FinTech hub. The Kingdom is rapidly gaining international recognition as a FinTech leader thanks to forward-thinking regulation introduced by the Central Bank of Bahrain, including the region’s first regulatory sandbox and progressive rules for next generation technologies such as cryptocurrencies and open banking. Just last month, Visa became the latest financial services company to partner with FinTech Bay.

The report also recognised Bahrain as a Top 15 Global Ecosystem for affordable talent. Bahrain boasts one of the most skilled and entrepreneurial workforces in the region, over 60% of which work in the private sector. Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services’ AWS Educate training scheme is providing Bahrainis with the necessary skills for cloud-based jobs. Interestingly, it’s estimated that more than 60% of computer science students at the University of Bahrain in 2018 were women.

Bahrain’s tax regime and wage subsidies for new employers emerged as real differentiators among the key draws highlighted in the report.

The report reflects the views of more than 10,000 founders and draws on data from over one million companies.

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