(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Bahrain is one of the top 10 startup ecosystems with the largest share of female founders, according to the 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER).
The report, produced by StartUp Genome in partnership with the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, revealed that, with 18 per cent of its startups founded by women, Bahrain topped even internationally recognised startup hubs such as Silicon Valley at 16 per cent and London at 15 per cent. The report also lauded Bahrain as one of the top 10 ecosystems to watch in FinTech in Europe and the Middle East; and a top 15 Global Ecosystem for affordability of qualified talent.
Khalid Al Rumaihi, chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: "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."
Dr. Ebrahim Mohammed Janahi, chief executive of Tamkeen, said: "Over the past decade, Bahrain's startup ecosystem has made significant progress where startups can access a global network of partners to scale up and capture opportunities in Bahrain and the region."
Dr Janahi pointed out one of Bahrain's key competitive advantages in the region, which lies in its firm belief in the importance of women as an active player in shaping Bahrain's economic future. "In line with these national objectives, Tamkeen has launched a number of ad-hoc programmes to foster the development of female-owned businesses in addition to Tamkeen's flagship programmes supporting individuals and enterprises," he added.
According to Dr Janahi, to date, more than 59 per cent of women have been served as part of Tamkeen's micro finance support, while more than 50 per cent were served within the business development program, which offers a co-financing service to cover 50 per cent of business equipment.
The Kingdom has a long history of women in senior leadership positions. Currently, a group of female leaders in FinTech is helping to steer the country's FinTech strategy. Leading female Bahraini startup founders include Hala Sulaiman and Ameera AlQubaiti - co-founders of Alrawi, a successful audiobook startup 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 advanced 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.
Bahrain boasts one of the most skilled and entrepreneurial workforces in the region, over 60 per cent 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 per cent of computer science students at the University of Bahrain in 2018 were women. Bahrain's tax regime - the most liberal in the Gulf - and wage subsidies for new employers also emerged as real differentiators among the key draws highlighted in the report.