Complex Made Simple

Top industries MENA entrepreneurs can venture into post-pandemic

Here are the top industries aspiring entrepreneurs must consider as the world inches closer to an economy after COVID-19.

According to Covid-19 CEMEA Impact Tracker’s research analysis, over 80% of small businesses in the UAE have seen a fall in revenue, while this figure reached 93% in KSA However, it is during these turbulent times that innovation is at its peak, supported by effective business strategies that take advantage of the pandemic Done right, entrepreneurs in the region can reap great rewards for investing in these sectors

The coronavirus outbreak has been making headlines for almost a year now. One of the familiar things 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 during these turbulent times that innovation is at its peak, supported by effective business strategies that take advantage of 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. In line with the current economic climate, the pharmaceutical sector is already on the path to becoming one of the fastest-growing industries across the globe. The UAE seems to be following a similar pathway with the support of the government to meet the needs of the growing population of the country, predicted 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 designated the pharmaceutical industry as one of their priority sub-sectors which they aim to grow over the long-term. Entrepreneurs and startups could see rapid development in this industry due to growing demand and constant publicity by government authorities and ministries who are transforming the sector as an asset to the world’s economy.

Financial Services
Among the consequences of the pandemic have been the economic-lows many corporations and individuals are facing. Adding to this, unemployment and health issues are only making it further challenging. In these unprecedented times, financial companies or NBFCs can have a crucial role to play. Currently, the fintech market is witnessing a surge in the MENA region, projecting a further increase of 8% by 2022. The growth is majorly fueled by the rising fintech startups, an increase in Islamic banking industry and mobile phone usage.

One classic example is the Dubai-based Kayan Labs, who have successfully developed Rise, a one-stop digital platform for domestic workers and migrants with the necessary 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 incurs revenue of over $125 million annually. 

Read: Business is based on game theory: Here’s how to play to win

Digital Future powered by AI
Experts believe that digitization infused with innovation will be the game-changer for the economy’s recovery from the pandemic. The global crisis has accelerated the usage of digital tools and technologies in almost every industry. According to the World Economic Forum, internet usage has increased by 50% in many parts of the world as most people’s routines are moving online. To be specific, AI and SaaS (Software as a service) are the leading players of digitization as they transpire into pivotal elements of a company’s functionality. For instance, companies who have founded, developed and operated remote working tools are witnessing a rise in their revenues thanks to today’s work culture.

Entrepreneurs who venture into this sector can see a promising career with improvisations to improve employee productivity and accentuate their engagement. The UAE region also has a similar vision where AI technologies and other digital tools will have a significant social and economic impact. These tools may account to almost 60% of the productivity growth by the end of 2030.

EdTech
Since the coronavirus outbreak, the education industry has already 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 still hesitant to send their children to class.

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 EdTech 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 increased to $20 million as per Magnitt. This industry has a great potential to tap into every aspect of offering engaging, easily accessible and convenient modes of study that may give rise to a new system of future education.

Although the future may look bleak on the whole, there are several opportunities yet to explore, especially for individuals who are entrepreneurs at heart and have a natural flair for business. Although many industries are facing a challenging time, there are a few that will see the rainbow even on the rainiest of days. And when the rain stops, there is nothing that can prevent them from emerging as successful industry experts.

Read: 5 reasons why social entrepreneurship is a potential business model in the UAE