When you think of a Muslim female, what image comes to mind immediately? Maybe a housewife and homemaker, baby on hip, phone to ear with pancakes tossing in the air. Or a girl in the far corner of the library, head buried deep in a book, furiously taking notes.
What about an entrepreneur and CEO of a successful business. No? It’s almost impossible for a Muslim woman to be seen as the decision maker in any business let alone owning her own company! Although a lack of female entrepreneurs is not something that is specific to the Muslim community, it’s even higher in Muslim communities as women are usually the homemakers of the household whilst men are the main bread winners.
However in this golden age of the internet, women are finding creative ways of running a successful business whilst raising a family.
So here are five reasons why we desperately need more Muslim women entrepreneurs:
1. Social Enterprise – Women are more often social entrepreneurs and consider the social, environmental and ethical implications of the businesses they run or are involved in compared to men (59% compared to 48%) (A Survey of Social Enterprise Across the UK, DTi, 2005)
This can have a positive impact on society and the planet at large. The Muslim world, often riddled with problems (economic, social, political) could also benefit from female led businesses as women would more likely value social development versus just profit making which helps in tackling many of the issues that exist head on.
2. Equality – It’s a fact, there are far more male led business than there are females led ones, and this can often create working environments that do not reflect the needs of women. Female led business are more likely to understand the need for flexible working hours as well as being able to accommodate women who have families, and choose to work from home. More Muslim women entrepreneurs could result in more female friendly businesses, encouraging Muslim women to take part in the world of work without having to compromise the needs of their families and home life.
3. To fight stereotypes – Muslim women are often wrongly portrayed as being oppressed or weak, having more Muslim women entrepreneurs will challenge this perception and counteract stereotypes which undermine a Muslim woman’s ability in making good and well thought out business decisions.
4. Tackle female unemployment – A recent study by the Muslim Council of Britain revealed that 70% of Muslim women between the ages of 16-24 are unemployed. One way of tackling this high number of young Muslim female unemployment is through entrepreneurship as this could help remove many of the barriers that may prevent Muslim women from entering the world of work.
5. Lack of female role models – There is an increasing number of studies which suggest that the current generation of young people are the most entrepreneurial group yet. However, young Muslim girls may find it hard to find role models that they can identify with or seek guidance or mentoring from. An increase in entrepreneurship in Muslim women will create inspirational role models that young girls can imitate and will also portray the path to entrepreneurship as a viable and rewarding one to pursue.
These are only a few points and there are definitely many more reasons why the world needs more Muslim female entrepreneurs. Muslim women have immense potential and it’s important that governments as well as local communities work towards a more entrepreneurial society which empowers Muslim women and provides them with the right tools to thrive and succeed.