The latest installment of Entrepreneur Middle East’s #EntMELive online webinar series, titled “Paradigm Shift: Developing The MENA Region’s Gig Economy,” featured key players from the MENA business ecosystem discussing the state of the regional gig economy, as well as the steps that need to be taken to strengthen it in the long run. The conversation was live-streamed to over 400 people online and was moderated by MediaPix Limited Director Aly Ramji. Here’s a breakdown of the important points raised by the speakers at the event.
Natalia Sycheva, Senior Manager – Special Projects & Entrepreneurship, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry
The conversation was launched off by Natalia Sycheva, Senior Manager – Special Projects and Entrepreneurship, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who said that the expansion of the MENA’s gig economy was a reflection of the population’s growing interest in entrepreneurship. “What we observe is that the entrepreneurial spirit is still quite strong,” says the author, “Sycheva said. “This is based on data collected at Dubai Startup Hub, the entrepreneurship initiative launched by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2016. Since then, we’ve helped over 10,000 entrepreneurs and founders, mostly in the technology industry.”
Despite the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the membership of Dubai Startup Hub increased by more than 200 percent, which Sychev described as “an extraordinary growth rate.”
Zaheer Merchant, Director of Corporate Affairs, QI Group
Zaheer Merchant, Director of Corporate Affairs at QI Group, explained how his company’s sector of expertise – direct selling – lies in the sweet spot when it comes to combining micro-entrepreneurship and the gig economy. According to Merchant, contemporary trends in the digital world, such as social selling, data analytics, and influencer marketing, are driving direct selling because it is such a people-oriented industry.
Leena Khalil, co-founder and CCO, Mumzworld.com
Mumzworld.com co-founder and CCO Leena Khalil, a UAE-based entrepreneur, stated that entrepreneurs, regardless of the industry they serve or the type of business they run, must make an effort to effectively know their customers, while keeping in mind their limited attention span and the data overload they are exposed to daily. “Trying to reach the consumer is more exciting than ever,” she added, “but it’s more crucial than ever to understand who your target market is.” “With very little marketing expenditure, little firms are becoming viral over the world. It’s all about getting to know your customer and being as creative as possible.”
Maria Paula Oliveira, MENA Innovation Leader, Ernst & Young
Maria Paula Oliveira, MENA Innovation Leader at Ernst & Young, said that entrepreneurs should exercise their “innovation muscles” as they traverse the region’s gig economy, describing her position as “helping organizations develop innovation muscles that enable them to thrive through change.” “You, as a founder, need to understand how to run controlled experiments,” she said, but she also stressed the importance of entrepreneurs demonstrating success by meeting key performance indicators such as sales, customer retention, and other similar growth rate measurements.
Heading 2: The MENA Region’s Gig Economy Development: A Shift in Perspective