In an attempt to avoid the paperwork and financial guarantees required for setting up a business in Saudi Arabia, Saudi women have recently resorted to e-projects to earn a living.
The remarkable prevalence of several e-stores established by Saudi women is attributed to the numerous steps needed for starting a regular business. This includes getting trade permits, submitting reference letters, and the approval of the male guardian, the London-based al-Hayat reported Monday.
Since the e-stores, which basically sell gift iitems, food stuff, women’s and children’s clothing and household supplies, only exist in the virtual world and are operated away from official business procedures, there are no accurate records of their numbers.
Mariam al-Saleh, who owns a confectionary e-store, posts pictures of desserts she makes on the social networking website Facebook, each item with its price while big quantities get a special discount.
“Most of my clients are working women who don’t have time to cook,” she told the paper. “I deliver the food to their homes or workplaces, depending on their request.”
Saleh added that she got to know her clients via the internet and that women kept telling each other about her project until she managed to form a wide client base.
Dalal al-Yaacoub started with printing the names and pictures of her friends and relatives on bracelets and wallets as well as adorning them with accessories.
“I used to do this for free for close people then it turned into a business when friends of friends started placing orders.”
Yaacoub added that her husband and mother suggested that she expands the business by going online.
“Now, I receive orders from all over the Gulf region and from other Arab countries.”
Umm Mohamed, who specializes in traditional cooking, sells her food to people who have no time to cook at home.
“My clients are mostly singles who enjoy eating clean, traditional food but have no time to make it,” she told the paper.
She added that in the beginning she was unable to deliver the food she cooks, but after her business became succesful and she earned a lot of money, she could buy a car and hire a driver.
“Now, I can deliver my food to clients without taking any risks. Providing a delivery service doubled the amount of orders I get.”
While working outside government regulations saves the businesswomen a lot of time and effort and grants them more independence, the major drawback of e-business is that it is not protected by the relevant official bodies and their owners are not capable of seeking legal support if they should fall victim to fraud.
(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)