Jordan’s entrepreneurship ecosystem has been evolving over the past decade resulting in the growing participation of women entrepreneurs. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report, Jordan’s female-to-male ratio for Total Entrepreneurship Activity (TEA) went from 0.26 in 2016 to 0.59 in 2019, an improvement of around 127 percent in only 3 years. Jordan has also developed gender-friendly policies for women to equally access credit, sign contracts, register a business, and open a bank account, in the same way as men. This evolution has been reflected in Jordan’s outstanding score of 100 out of 100 in the entrepreneurship indicator as measured by the World Bank’s Women, Business, and the Law (WBL) report.
Supporting entrepreneurs in Jordan, both women and men, over the last decade, Oasis500 is a pre-seed and seed fund manager and business accelerator, that provides startups with funding and full access to their acclaimed hands-on six-month business acceleration program, offering technical support and guidance from highly experienced coaches/mentors, among other services. This helps entrepreneurs to build innovative business models and establish scalable startups.
We spoke to Luma Fawaz, CEO of Oasis500 since December 2018, to tell us how she has supported women through the fund & accelerator. Named by Forbes as one of the Middle East’s ‘Top 100 Power Businesswomen’ for the last two years running, her strong passion for enabling women entrepreneurs contributed to Oasis500 record numbers of participation: 80% of its employees are women, and 40% of Oasis500’s 175 portfolio startups have women founders. Throughout her career, she told us she always stepped out of her comfort zone and pushed the limits towards creating a better reality for women leaders in business.
As we look to continuously promote entrepreneurship and private sector job creation across the MENA region, the World Bank’s Innovative Startups and SMEs Fund (ISSF) for Jordan, co-financed by the Central Bank of Jordan, invested US$3 million in Oasis500’s second fund, called Oasis Venture 2 (OV2). The ISSF is the largest early stage/small-and-medium enterprise (SMEs) investment fund in Jordan and is committed to facilitating funding for Jordanian startups and SMEs demonstrating ambitious vision, innovation, and high growth potential.
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