“Women run only one of every four start-ups overall in the region that includes the Middle East, according to the “Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s 2012 Women’s Report,” Numbers are hard to come by, but in the six countries for which the best data is available —Algeria, Egypt,Iran, Palestine, Tunisia and Israel—there were about 9.9 million new ventures in total, so about 2.5 million new ventures of all kinds and in all industries could be run by women.
The tech scene is drawing the most attention now. Much of the surge has come about in the years since the Arab Spring. “There is a connection between what they were asking for in Tahrir Square and entrepreneurship, because they come from the same place,” said Christopher Schroeder, author of “Startup Rising,” about start-ups in the Middle East. “Tools of technology that allow people to express their voice politically, societally, culturally—why wouldn’t they unleash desire for an economic voice as well?”
The women entrepreneurs don’t see political tensions as a detriment but rather as an opportunity. “Problems come with opportunity,” said May Habib, founder and CEO of Qordoba, a translation site based in the UAE. “If you’re someone who is a natural hustler, you can make money.'”