- The next generation of unicorn startups is here—and an increasing number of them are being headed or co-headed by the women
- The UAE aims to solidify its position as the go-to destination for international investment in the Middle East
- The females are the future of unicorn startups, but there’s a long road ahead
- Things are changing gradually as the women-led start-ups are an extremely niche area
Dubai — Though female entrepreneurs still face multiple barriers in accessing finance, however, the number of disrupting, lucrative women-run unicorns is growing exponentially. Unicorn, to state the overstated, is the title given to start-ups valued at over $1 billion dollars.
The proportion of new unicorns with atleast one woman founder in 2021 was at par with the year 2019 – the highest since 2015. As many as 83 of the 595 unicorns in 2021 were founded or co-founded by women, more than quadrupling that category’s count from 2020, according to the GCC Women Entrepreneurship Report, exclusively launched by Dash Venture Labs.
Of 83 new unicorns in 2021, as many as 16 are led by women. As of late, women co-founded unicorns also went public in 2021 when several companies were not valued in a private financing as a unicorn, but were valued in their public-market debuts above $1billion.
New Unicorns with a women CEO
The next generation of unicorn startups is here — and an increasing number of them are being headed or co-headed by the women. The women-led unicorns in a market that’s largely built by and for men included payroll, grocery delivery, software, clinical research, mobile banking, real estate, mental health, marketplace comics, agtech and beauty and brand in 2021.
The entrepreneurial landscape has changed over the last nine years or so and women-led unicorns in 2022 included supply chain, global HR, healthcare and tracking, interior design, customer engagement, edtech, real estate and payments.
Women-led unicorns that went public in 2021 included RELX, NYKAA, vimeo, nextdoor, X23andme, DARKTRACE and RENT THE RUNWAY.
“One of the things that will have the biggest impact is having more female investors. Females are the future of unicorn startups, but there’s a long road ahead,” says Shailesh Dash, Founder of Dash Venture Labs.
A change is afoot
Things are changing gradually as the women-led start-ups are an extremely niche area. This trend has gained momentum as there were only five unicorns headed or co-headed by the by females in 2013. But this number has grown to 83 in 2021.
“Exciting headlines with stories of venture capital funds investing in female-led startups have become a daily affair now. We are in an entrepreneurial revolution. The more women who are giving it a go, the closer we can get to a 50/50 representation of population,” says Dubai-based financier and entrepreneur Shailesh Dash.
Entrepreneurial Nation UAE has enabling infrastructure
Regarded as Entrepreneurial Nation, the UAE aims to solidify its position as the go-to destination for international investment in the Middle East. It is focusing on an ecosystem that is enabling for development of local businesses and nurturing 20 unicorns by 2031 through allocation of $272 million private equity fund to build correct infrastructure to support startups in the region.
With various new laws attracting newer skillsets to economy such as coders, freelancers and financiers into ecosystem, the UAE is ticking all the right boxes to position itself as the global hub for startups.
About Dash Venture Labs
Dash Venture Labs have prepared the report in partnership with SDCEE and Ascent Partners. We work towards helping entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses and scale-up. We also provide efficient and reliable solutions for any obstacles related to business setup. Created by a community of venture builders, Dash Venture Labs aims to create the largest network of entrepreneurs in the GCC and South East Asia regions.