The Phenix Center for Economic and Information Studies in Jordan, in collaboration with the international organization CARE in Jordan, launched an Analytical Study on Barriers for Women to Start and Run Micro and Small Businesses in Jordan.
Director of the Phenix Center, Ahmad Awad remarked that the economic participation rates of women in Jordan have remained stagnant for years, lingering at 14 percent. He emphasized that the capabilities of women in Jordan, especially female entrepreneurs, are hindered by various obstacles preventing increased participation in the labor market.
Shatha Obeid, the Project Management Director at CARE International in Jordan, highlighted the need to intensify efforts to enhance women’s economic participation, emphasizing its tangible impact on economic growth. CARE consistently focuses on empowering women, children, refugees, and other marginalized groups by providing resources and eliminating discrimination in the labor market.
The lead researcher at the Phoenix Center, Ola Badr, presented key findings from the study, pointing out economic, social, legal, and personal challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in Jordan.
The study, indicated that the economic challenges are represented by the poor financial assets and resources of women entrepreneurs, limited financial inclusion of women and their weak financial culture, and inadequate marketing and product distribution. The study also revealed that 61% of female entrepreneurs in the sample faced challenges related to the lack of basic and intangible resources.
Furthermore, the study highlighted difficulties accessing financial services, with more than 56.9% finding it challenging and 38.7% facing obstacles in obtaining loans. Weak marketing skills were noted by 40.5% of respondents, as many of them do not use technology for marketing, impacting their ability to reach a broader customer base and compete in digital markets.
Addressing social challenges, the study identified societal attitudes, gender roles, geographical and cultural barriers, as significant factors. Societal attitudes in Jordan tend to steer women towards traditional roles, they do not accept job opportunities that do not suit their culture, which has contributed to high unemployment rates among women and hinders their participation in entrepreneurship.
Moreover, women entrepreneurs face what is commonly known as the “double burden”. Balancing roles in business management with responsibilities at home, especially for those with children under 6 years old, has increased psychological pressure.
A significant 40.5% of respondents indicated feeling these pressures during their socialization process and that they are related to their multiple roles in the family.
Geographical and cultural barriers worsen challenges to market access, particularly in rural areas. Women in these regions face transportation difficulties and conservative customs that hinder their business endeavors.
The study highlighted that female entrepreneurs in Jordan face numerous legal and regulatory challenges, limiting their ability to run and manage small and micro-enterprises. This includes formal registration and licensing processes that result in the loss of some social protection benefits, discouraging them from officially registering their businesses.
The complexity of government procedures, the reluctance of homeowners to grant approvals for home-based projects, and the high fees for inspecting project samples create additional barriers to the registration of these projects.
As for personal challenges, the study also highlighted that Entrepreneurial women lack some leadership skills, self-awareness, legal and financial awareness; and certain leadership skills like setting long-term goals, time management, planning, communication skills, and interpersonal communication.
Ghadeer Al-Hamoud, Deputy Director of Planning and Economic Development at the Greater Amman Municipality, stated that efforts are underway to enhance women’s economic participation by providing business incubators for women entrepreneurs. Additionally, training courses are going to be offered in various fields, such as production kitchens and beauty, to raise awareness and skills.
Meanwhile, Huda Ayesh, National Coordinator for Al- Mashreq Gender Facility for women economic empowerment at the Jordanian National Commission for Women, shared the problem lies not in women-related policies but in their weak implementation.
She noted that women’s entrepreneurial projects in Jordan lack continuity due to funding deficiencies and low awareness. Furthermore, women’s capacities are not fully utilized to contribute to the local economy.
Manal Abdullah, the research specialist at the Microfund for Women, stated that the fund works to provide financing opportunities for women of all nationalities to start their projects. The fund also offers educational courses to ensure the sustainability of these projects.
Elham Abu Nejim, the SMEs Unit Director at The Jordanian Enterprise Development Corporation for Small and Micro-Enterprise Development mentioned that the foundation provides financial grants for women starting their projects. In addition, training courses are offered in product marketing.
Collectively, the study recommended reviewing legal legislation related to business practices, simplifying registration and licensing procedures for small and micro-projects, and creating business incubators for women entrepreneurs. It also suggested enhancing public transportation to meet the needs of women, especially those with disabilities, and emphasized the need for joint government and societal efforts to overcome economic, social, and legal obstacles faced by women entrepreneurs. Aida Naji, the Executive Director of the Jordan Forum for Business & Professional Women, agreed with the need for intensified and synchronized efforts to address the challenges hindering women’s economic participation.