Being a female entrepreneur, anywhere in the world, comes with numerous challenges in the market, including social restrictions, financial concerns, and fear of failure.
Fortunately, gender inclusivity has shot to the forefront of business conversations, as companies and governments begin empowering women, so that they can flourish throughout their entrepreneur journey. One of these companies is GoDaddy which empowers everyday entrepreneurs.
Daily News Egypt interviewed Selina Bieber, the Senior Regional Director for GoDaddy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, following her speech at the SHE CAN conference.
During the interview, Bieber gave more insights on how the brand empowers women within its work environment or for its customers.
She stated how challenging it can be to wear multiple hats, juggling between GoDaddy’s operations in the MENA region, and navigating time-zones and travel while being present as a ‘hands-on mum’. She noted that this is no easy feat.
Therefore, Bieber shared her story in the hopes to support and empower other women into finding a good work-life balance.
Bieber also expressed her gratitude to the company’s efforts in empowering female entrepreneurs globally, and helping her find the ideal work-life schedule to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The Daily New Egypt interview also focused on the situation regarding female entrepreneurship in Egypt, touching on opportunities, challenges, and promising sectors that women prefer to enter.
Women entrepreneurs in Egypt
Bieber highlighted how female entrepreneurs are transforming traditional stereotypes into professional success. She also outlined her outlook on the entrepreneurial scene for women in Egypt and the MENA region.
“The rise in the number of women in businesses has verified the pivotal role females play in impacting the business and economic growth and development of a nation,” Bieber said.
“Gender inclusivity has become necessary across business sectors, and has caused many sectors to leverage on the untapped potential of Egyptian women, creating new jobs and allowing more women to embark on their desired career,” she added, “Globally, it can help to increase women’s income and support family welfare improvements, which is critical for reaching key national development goals.”
In addition, Bieber expressed her optimism at the female entrepreneurial scene in Egypt. She noted that the government has successfully demonstrated their efforts in slowly diminishing gender gaps across various business sectors, due to the multiple initiatives and organisations that support women.
“GoDaddy has surveyed Egyptian female entrepreneurs on whether their company practices gender diversity, and 66% of women surveyed said that they feel well represented in their company,” she said.
Bieber also said that other studies have also stated that 30% of Egyptian businesses are being led by women. This demonstrates that Egypt is progressing towards gender equality in the workplace and is heading in the direction of more opportunities for growth.
Bieber clarified how GoDaddy offers an integrated suite of online tools and solutions to help entrepreneurs create, grow, and manage their businesses online.
This includes enabling them to create a captivating website that suits their company’s profile, with little or no technical knowledge. With close to 25 years of global experience, GoDaddy serves customers in over 100 countries around the world.
“Our core product offering allows entrepreneurs to kick-start their journey online with a rich, fully integrated online presence in English and Arabic,” said Bieber, “We have invested in website building tools such as our Arabic Website Builder and E-store to empower female entrepreneurs in Egypt and the MENA region into excelling in the digital world.”
She also highlighted that GoDaddy is on a laser-focused mission to empower its over 20 million customers by providing them with the necessary tools to grow online, regardless of their business sector.
“We know that many of our customers are female entrepreneurs, and we are committed to helping them create, grow, and manage their businesses online,” Bieber explained.
Bieber noted the important role women play in the business field, which has become evident, allowing more women to hop onto the entrepreneurship trend.
“Throughout my experience, I found that women are social by nature and have high expectations when it comes to customer service, product or service quality while ensuring security protection of customers’ data,” said Bieber.
She also elaborated on how she has found that women are more tech driven. In fact, more women tend to use Instagram and Snapchat globally than men, with Facebook not far behind, in order to showcase their businesses and projects.
“For instance, in Egypt the Snapchat trend is similar with 67% of users being female, according to social media companies Hootsuite and We Are Social Inc,” Bieber said, “This demonstrates how promising the future of e-commerce is in Egypt, which gives entrepreneurs the means to expand their visibility and reach by selling their products regionally and globally, helping them grow and succeed online.”
She said that, while GoDaddy focuses on the industry or types of businesses female entrepreneurs choose to focus on, the larger topic here is that women are almost 50% of the global population.
As a result, they represent and therefore a consumer audience that needs to be considered across all industries, by gender diverse teams. Caroline Criado-Perez, the author of Invisible Women, is one of my favourites on this topic and what is clear when reading her research and commentary is that diversity across a broad scope of industries is needed to truly develop inclusive services and products, and better serve the entire population. That is why we are committed to making online tools more accessible and affordable for the entire population,” she added.
Opportunities for female entrepreneurs
“The world has been on an endurance marathon against the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought challenges that people weren’t really prepared for,” said Bieber
From an economic point of view, these changes have impacted numerous people on both global and local scales. Countries can no longer miss out on the benefits and potential of implementing gender equality within their work force, providing more room for women to flourish in their respective fields, Bieber stated.
She praised the recent increase of female focused empowerment entities such as the National Council for Women (NCW), as well as the Closing Gender Gap Accelerator initiative led by Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation, NCW, and the World Economic Forum.
Bieber said that such entities and initiatives have all helped pave the way for many women to enter traditionally male-dominated business sectors, including e-commerce and technology industry.
She mentioned how this is enhanced by the shift to digital over the past twelve months, with an increase in online audiences and online presence tools. This has been coupled with digital marketing solutions and enhanced targeting capabilities.
As a result, female entrepreneurs can now leverage these to their advantage when launching a new business, or expanding an existing one.
“E-commerce is another core focus, with e-commerce penetration in Egypt growing at a rate of 33% annually and expected to hit approximately $3bn by 2022, according to Oxford Business Group,” Bieber expects.
Challenges for women entrepreneurs
Meanwhile, Bieber explained the challenge’s female entrepreneurs might face along the road, which may include a lack of specialised training. Additionally, they may have to deal with a modest educational background, social hindrances, and the difficulty in accessing finance.
“Moreover, discrimination against women in the labour market remains a significant obstacle to women’s participation and contribution to economic growth in Egypt, according to a report on women’s economic empowerment from the World Bank,” Bieber said.
She also said that studies suggest women-owned businesses in Egypt have unmet financing needs of $4.2bn, and a deposit potential of nearly $2.9bn, as per an International Finance Corporation (IFC) statement.
Bieber stated that GoDaddy aims to overcome these challenges through striving to foster a diverse workforce and workspace a focal point for business.
“The company’s approach focuses on the who, the what, and the how,” she said, “It isn’t just about employing more women, but understanding and developing the systems, processes, and structures within the workplace to ensure that we are a truly inclusive company.”
She added, “In addition, the company is committed to supporting Egyptian entrepreneurs, small business owners, people with a side hustle, and people seeking to connect, and our focus is to offer products and services that are easy to use and affordable, to help create a digital presence.”
Bieber mentioned that in order to further support this focus, GoDaddy recently announced its collaboration with Startups Without Borders. The collaboration aims to educate and train entrepreneurs across the MENA region on how to run an effective online business.
Egypt’s entrepreneurial landscape
Bieber said that the entrepreneurship scene in Egypt has proven to be quite promising, as the country is seeing an increasing number of startups. This is alongside supportive communities and institutions.
“GoDaddy’s market research on Egyptian entrepreneurs concluded that around 60% are eager to develop their own website,” she said, “These figures indicate that Egypt offers encouraging potential for entrepreneurial growth.”
Bieber also said that Egypt is comprised of a large youth population that is driving tech adoption, and it is this that ensures there are great possibilities in helping them develop their online presence. This can take place through GoDaddy’s powerful website building tools, to help them benefit from what being online can offer for business growth.
She assured that Egypt’s lucrative market and thriving entrepreneurship scene requires the development and enhancement of funding opportunities and mentorship from governmental entities.
It also includes maximising entrepreneurial potential and enabling up-and-coming entrepreneurs to apply their business vision. Thankfully the Egyptian Government has begun organizing and implementing several projects that targets the development of entrepreneurs.
Encouraging women entrepreneurs
Bieber said that there is much advice she would give to women afraid to conquer their fears of starting and developing their own business.
She noted how starting one’s own business could be quite daunting due to the many steps required to draft a concise business plan. This is quite aside from the intense gut feeling of not making it a success, that seizes control and can cloud your thoughts and ideas.
“After years of experience in the business field, I managed to come up with certain guidelines that I think would be of benefit to many female entrepreneurs,” Bieber said, “Seek new ways to engage in the labour market, be determined and persistent in establishing your end-goal by setting and following your boundaries.”
She also noted that it is important to foster an environment of learning, by sharing and developing ideas in order to create a strong and successful teamwork.
“It is okay to not have all the answers, and your journey may not be a straight-line,” Bieber added, “However, it is important to learn from bumps in the road, develop yourself and problem solve to reach your end-goal, even if it means redefining it along the way as you learn more about yourself.”
Talking about her aspirations, Bieber highlighted her belief on how career development goes hand-in-hand with personal growth, researching, learning, testing, and sometimes taking risks to implement the vision and deliver on goals.
“At GoDaddy, we are just at the beginning of our MENA region journey, and it truly excites me to be at the helm, building the business, offering our brand here, and gaining a wealth of experience and learnings in the process,” she said, “As we’ve discussed, there is so much opportunity and ensuring that we are doing our part to help foster digital transformation through products, support and guidance, is my core focus as I continue to fulfil my leadership ambitions.”
She added, “In parallel, there is a small entrepreneurial fire in me that is growing as I become more conscious of how my experience and skills can support and foster the growth of others.”
Bieber said that she likes to connect with friends, colleagues, and entrepreneurs to listen to their business strategies help brainstorm and problem solve as they overcome challenges.
She pointed to it being an extremely rewarding and enriching process that she wants to allocate more time for in the future.