In the past, people didn’t give much thought to the startup climate in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). But after Careem’s massive funding and Amazon’s acquisition of Souq, people are finally realizing the potential of the region.
I’ve been fortunate enough to meet with entrepreneurs and help startups all over the region through my work for the US-based Hidden Founders.
The local founders I’ve met in the region are tremendously ambitious about making MENA the next big nest for startups. However, while I’m tremendously positive about MENA’s tech scene, there are still few challenges that lie ahead — which need to be solved before the region can become a major hotbed for innovation.
Here are the main problems facing the MENA region:
MENA tech talent is excited about stability, not startups
The shortage of tech talent across the Middle East and North Africa is the first big hurdle for these startups. In countries like Morocco or Tunisia, for instance, there still isn’t a strong entrepreneurial culture, and most software engineering graduates consider going into big offshore companies an excellent professional move.
Stability, a clearly defined role, and minimum downside risk is what they look for, whereas in the US and Western Europe, founding a startup is seen as a risky but ambitious career move, with higher upside potential both financially and in term of career progression.
[Photo by Paul Keller | Flickr]