Female Fusion, the largest professional community for female entrepreneurs, has launched its official Business Directory, a first of its kind in the MENA region. This Directory consolidates female-founded businesses wherein the founders hold a share of 51% or more, indicated by a ‘W’ next to the listing and also businesses that are led by women. The platform provides an opportunity for women-owned businesses to gain visibility and makes it easy for potential clients and customers to discover verified and legally operational businesses in the UAE and support them to grow.
Globally, women-owned businesses make up half of the registered businesses, however, they only receive around 1-2% of contracts. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2021, it will now take 135.6 years to close the gender gap worldwide if the current trajectory in the growth of female entrepreneurs continues. The UAE was one of the five most improved countries for making progress on gender parity last year and organisations like Female Fusion have contributed to bridging the gender gap by working with local companies and the government to create better awareness and uplift women-owned businesses. The launch of this Business Directory is a step forward in this direction.
Usually, when looking for a women-founded and run external service provider, firms will most likely use a search engine. For small businesses, SEO and Adwords are expensive and can take a while to come into effect, making it difficult to appear in search results. Being listed in a verified Business Directory allows them to be easily searchable within a comprehensive user-friendly website. With over 1,500 categories ranging from pet services to personal coaching to legal firms and many more, firms and individuals can find a business that fits the criteria they are searching for.
The Directory offers two types of listings for those that wish to sign up — a premium and a basic listing. Those who are a part of Female Fusion’s paid membership network, known as the Fusion Circle, are offered a premium listing at no extra cost. The premium listing allows businesses to fully highlight their specialties through various channels like video, social media, product photos etc. Non-members can also be listed in the Directory — the basic listing is free apart from a Dh100 annual fee for trade license verification.
To be listed in the Business Directory, business owners must submit their trade licenses annually to Female Fusion to initiate the verification process and to confirm they are licensed to trade in the services they are offering.
Commenting on the launch of the business directory, Jen Blandos, CEO of Female Fusion said, “Irrespective of the positive outcomes women-owned businesses bring to the country’s economy, women-owned businesses are still not getting an equal share of contracts and business. Female Fusion and this verified Business Directory will help women-owned businesses find support among like-minded women as well as new clients to expand, evolve and achieve their dreams. Organisations that are committed to supporting female-founded businesses can find a variety of service providers such as auditors, lawyers, architects, photographers and more on the Directory. Our vision at Female Fusion is to create a safe, uplifting and supportive space to help women build a thriving business.”
The UAE has been extremely vocal about its support to female-founded businesses. The Ministry of Economy reported that 50% of the SMEs in the country are women-owned and 48% of women business owners are also the sole owners of their firms. These businesses employ about 20% of the workforce and contribute about 20% to the country’s GDP. There are also business councils set up specifically for women entrepreneurs in every emirate to reach out for support, mentorship and guidance.
“It is amazing that the government is so welcoming of women entrepreneurs, but even in such a burgeoning economy, small businesses can find it hard to get reach and awareness. The Business Directory allows members to showcase their expertise on a verified platform and their potential customers know that the business they are engaging with is licensed and run by dedicated business owners. If you’re a woman entrepreneur who is serious about her business and its growth, this is the place to be,” added Blandos.
Additionally, Female Fusion also organises various online and in-person networking events, delivers masterclasses and has an easy-to-access digital library with information about running a business in the UAE, among other channels of support for women to grow their businesses. During Ramadan, the network is hosting a series of workshops called “The Ramadan Sessions” for Fusion Circle members to support and inspire them professionally and personally.