top of page

Startup Demographics & Diversity, With Noor Salama

Updated: Apr 1

Episode 3: Startup Demographics & Diversity

Diversity is more than just a buzzword.

Have you considered your startup's demographics?

Are you aware of the benefits of diverse teams?

In this episode, we sit down with Noor Salama, Ecosystem Community Manager at MAGNiTT, to cover the current state of diversity amongst Middle East startups. We discuss:

  1. Startup team demographics in the Middle East

  2. Benefits of diverse teams

  3. MENA startup Funding levels in the first half of 2020

Noor Salama is the Ecosystem Community Manager at MAGNiTT, the Middle East’s largest startup data platform. MAGNiTT publishes insights into startup funding trends in the region.

Funded founders in the Middle East are largely male, come from a commercial background (academically and professionally), though there are expectations. This is largely due to increased willingness, culturally, for men to undertake professions perceived as riskier (i.e. a startup).

Beyond founders, in the Middle East, you can also find women leading government-backed startup hubs (e.g. Hub71, DIFC FinTech Hive), but this doesn’t necessarily translate to the level of entrepreneurship. DIFC FinTech Hive launched AccelerateHer, which is a women’s empowerment program, in 2019.

Women are more likely to embark as entrepreneurs in industries such as EdTech, Fashion, Luxury, and Beauty, as opposed to Transportation and IT. Whereas Arabs, by ethnicity, are more likely to support founder positions (across all industries) in the Middle East.

Diverse startup teams (gender, ethnicity, background) are more likely to have profitable unit economics as a result of diverse perspectives and skill sets. If diversity is embedded in the Middle East startup culture early on, the region stands a chance at illuminating all the biases that currently exist in Silicon Valley. However, ensuring diversity is still not at the forefront of founders’ minds, and addressing it by force may risk the related initiatives coming into play as a novelty factor.

“Behind every fantastic founder are a lot of people. At later stages, investors are no longer investing in a founder, they’re investing in a team.”

Increasing visibility of female founders in the media, positioned as success stories, might encourage a future generation of female entrepreneurs.

Bahrain has the largest female-to-male ratio of funded founders in the region. Meanwhile, the UAE has the largest number of funded startups across MENA.

Across MENA, in the first half of 2020, startups have raised 95% of 2019’s total year funding. The majority of these investments have been in later-stage companies. Download snapshot here.

75% of Silicon Valley’s tech workforce hold H1B visas. As President Trump has put a freeze on new issuance of H1B visas for the rest of 2020, the Middle East stands to attract that talent pipeline.

Want to socialize with us about this episode? You can follow both Noor on Instagram & LinkedIn and Spark! on Instagram and Linkedin.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page