The coronavirus outbreak has been the talk of the town or should I say the globe, for almost a year now. One of the common factors people globally are experiencing is the disruptiveness in the workspace with little to no guarantee of one’s employment. According to COVID-19 CEMEA Impact Tracker’s research analysis, Central and Eastern Europe along with the Middle East and North Africa have seen a fall in revenues of over 80% of small businesses in the UAE and 93% in KSA.
However, it is these turbulent times when innovation is at its peak, supported by effective business strategies that take advantage of the pandemic. History has always been a witness to the rise of entrepreneurs who flourish and become business tycoons post-recession. Well, here it’s the pandemic.
Here are the top industries aspiring entrepreneurs must consider as researchers and strategists predict the reemergence of these sectors – perhaps, stronger than ever.
Health & Pharmaceutical
The MENA region has predicted a rapid expansion in the pharmaceutical sector with the market reaching $60B by the end of 2025. Along with the thriving business market, players of this industry are reaffirming themselves as a vital support system among its consumers. Considering the current climate, the industry is already on the path to becoming one of the fastest-growing industries throughout the globe. The UAE seems to be following a similar pathway with the right support of the government to meet the needs of the growing population of the country which is supposed to reach 11.1 million by the end of 2030 as confirmed by World Bank Projects.
Additionally, The Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 and Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 have the pharmaceutical industry as one of their priority sub-sectors which they aim to grow for a long-term economic impact. Entrepreneurs and startups could see fast development in this industry with its growing demand and the constant publicity by government authorities and ministries that are only emphasizing the sector as an asset to the world’s economy.
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One of the consequences of the pandemic has been the economic-lows corporations and individuals are facing. Some masses are and maybe in the future stranded with less capital and cash reserves. Adding to this, unemployment and health issues are only making it more challenging. In these unprecedented times, financial companies or NBFCs can have a crucial role to play. Supporting this, the fintech market is already witnessing a surge in the MENA region which is anticipated to increase by 8% by 2022. The growth is majorly fueled by the rising fintech startups in the region, an increase in Islamic banking industry and mobile phone usage.
One classic example is the Dubai-based Kayan Labs who developed and operate Rise, a one-stop digital platform for domestic workers and migrants with the required financial products/services. The startup caters to low-income migrants locally and globally and aims to offer essential financial solutions. Founded in 2016, the corporation claims to have grown by 50% every month and have over $125 million of revenues annually.
Digital Future powered by AI
Experts believe that digitization infused with innovation will be the game-changers of the economy’s recovery from the pandemic. It is no doubt that the global crisis has accelerated the usage of digital tools and technologies in almost every industry. According to the World Economic Forum, the usage of the internet has increased by over 50% in many parts of the world as most people’s routines are moving online. To be specific, AI, SaaS (Software as a service) are the leading players of digitization as they transpired into important elements to a company’s functionality. For instance, companies who have founded, developed and operated remote working tools are witnessing a rise in their revenues in consideration to today’s work culture.
Entrepreneurs who venture into this sector can see a promising career with improvisations to improve employee productivity and accentuate employee engagement. The UAE region also has a similar vision where AI technologies and other digital tools are expected to have a significant social and economic impact. These tools are predicted to account for about 60% of the productivity growth by the end of 2030.
The education industry along with many others has partially shifted online. In this sector, online tutoring, web courses and completing programs online has become the need of the hour. Although it is almost impossible to replace the traditional ways of teaching, educators are looking at innovations that will if not improve, at least retain the quality of education provided to its students. Even with social distancing enforced in schools, universities and higher education institutions, families are yet hesitant to send their children.
According to UNICEF, the MENA region has witnessed 110 million children staying at home due to the temporary shutdowns of schools. Over the years, there has been a moderate increase in EduTech tools with very little funding and support. Even before Covid, the Middle East received only over $1 million for developing EdTech platforms. However, today, the funding has drastically increased to a record of $20 million as per Magnitt. This industry has a great potential to tap into every aspect of offering interesting, engaging, easily accessible and convenient modes of study that may give rise to a new system of future education.
With lockdowns and social distancing enforced all over the world, people are hesitant to shop and buy products in conventional ways. People refrain from attending gatherings or even going to supermarkets to buy their essentials, instead banking on online platforms that are supported with contactless deliveries. Hence, aspiring business owners must consider the e-commerce route as research claims a steep spike in the customer-retail operations.
The Middle East is regarded as one of the fastest-growing e-commerce markets, seeing its e-commerce profit quadruple from $5 billion profit in 2015 to $20 billion before 2020. Analysts confirm that the market is estimated to reach over $48 billion by 2021. With the Middle East, a growing hub for online goods and with its modern technologies, the region has a promising future for e-commerce setups and companies.
Although the future may look bleak as a whole, there are several opportunities yet to explore especially for individuals who are entrepreneurs at heart and have a natural flair to deal in business.