Meet the Biggest Beneficiaries of The Digital Revolution: Middle Eastern ‘Instapreneurs’
By Binjal Shah
We keep speaking of the power of the digital revolution to give flight to women’s ambitions. Imagine how it would lift and augment a female population of a country, where they are not even allowed to drive.
Saudi Arabia is yet to allow its women to get behind the wheel, if they are unaccompanied by a man. Since women can’t reach a potential workplace, what the digital sphere facilitates essentially, is bringing a virtual workplace to them.
Facebook lead the revolution of online retailing, and the traffic has now shifted to its online dedicated photo-sharing wing Instagram. By uploading photos of their product, which could be anything from desserts, to accessories, to clothes, they interact with buyers on the platform itself, and well –that’s a complete transaction.
Nouf al-Mazrou, started a barbeque catering business and teamed up with her sisters.
“I’m free, and no man has to take responsibility for me,” says the single mom to NPR.
Another “Instapreneur Reema Khateb says of her business that she started recently after quitting her banking job, “Every gift, I made it myself, or I bring it from Vegas or London. Do what you love, love what you do.”
These are uncomplicated models, as you do not have to involve the government for registration, and put up with the bureaucracy that comes with it. Instead, women get to operate from their homes itself at timings that they prefer.
But this also means that their incomes go unaccounted for in the GDP. In fact, the Labor Ministry hasn’t yet been able to count the income as part of the informal economy.
“We are looking at it; we are trying to figure out how we can put a number on it,” says Taibah. “It happened over the last three years.”
Maha Taibah, an adviser at the Ministry of Labor is working on a team aiming to double the number of women in the workforce in the next few years.
“We are looking at subsidies that would jump-start the system and get the ball rolling — transportation subsidies, day-care subsides and training subsides,” says Taibah.
[Image Courtesy: NDI.org]