Tides of Change: Exploring Oman’s Vibrant Female Startups and Technopreneurs
While Oman is historically renowned for its rich cultural heritage, warm people, and beautiful landscapes, the country is gradually gaining a name for its vibrant tech ecosystem. And while more traditional roles held sway previously, Omani women today are effortlessly embracing the opportunities of a global, digital economy.
A Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report released in 2021 found that over 60% of new startups in Oman are now founded or co-founded by women, compared with just over 40% in 2015.
And as Oman’s 2040 Vision aims to diversify the economy, with technology and innovation as key pillars, accelerator programs like Omantel Innovation Labs and OTF Wadi play a crucial role in supporting the country’s tech startups by offering funding, training, and mentorship. Many of them are run by women.
With progressive government initiatives, changing social views, strong female role models and a new generation of highly educated women, Oman’s female technopreneurs are poised to drive further innovation and economic growth with their fresh perspectives.
Zumr CEO, Shamsa Al Salami reiterates, “I firmly believe that diversity and inclusivity drive innovation”.
And as this tide of change sweeps across the nation, we’re excited to feature three inspirational Omani female technopreneurs in this article, shedding light on their startups, achievements, challenges, and the journey that has led them to where they stand today.
Perhaps the first female pioneer in the drone management business in Oman and across all MENA, Anwaar AlHinai operates as the CEO and Co-founder of SERB (formerly known as AirGo).
Drawing on her passion for drone technology and a vision to revolutionize the industry in the region, she co-founded SERB in 2020. The country’s first UTM platform-as-a-service to offer a safe passage to drone operations for both businesses and government institutions, SERB has gone on to gain international recognition under her guidance and become one of the top companies in its field.
A facilitator of the diverse use cases of drone technology for business and government use, SERB helps clients overcome the traditional challenges of securing permits and routes for drone operations, which include operational risks, strict regulatory needs, and large capital expenses. With SERB, clients can now pilot drones legally, safely, and profitably.
Anwaar strongly believes that the use of drone technology goes beyond its financial benefits. Compared to traditional methods, it’s safer and more cost-effective to use in hard-to-reach areas. And one of her goals is to encourage the Omani government to embrace this technology while connecting with passionate drone users.
On the back of the phenomenal success SERB has enjoyed since its launch, SERB secured a whopping $2.7 Million investment from Saudi VC Company ‘Forming Future’ at LEAP23 earlier this year. This exciting development has paved the way for them to expand across Oman and into neighbouring GCC nations as well.
With Zumr, what CEO and Co-founder Shamsa Al Salami set out to do was to transform the way people access financial services. In shaping her fintech startup, Shamsa drew on her considerable consultancy experience where she had created lasting impact in sectors like logistics, finance, and agriculture.
Founded in 2022, Zumr aimed to provide digital saving and credit solutions for the financially excluded. Their motivation came from the shared frustration with the financial options available to them in the market at that point.
The Zumr platform was designed to empower Omanis by giving them access to finance opportunities they might not otherwise have. Through flexible circles, users can work together to achieve their financial goals, whether that means gaining access to credit or saving for the future. The platform offers two types of circles: open circles and closed circles. What’s great is that both involve high levels of privacy and security, ensuring user information is kept safe.
Shamsa’s led her company to great heights in a short period, overcoming additional challenges as a female entrepreneur, working tirelessly together with her team to break barriers and prove themselves. And their efforts have paid off in numerous ways. Zumr was accepted into the first batch of the coveted Central Bank of Oman Fintech Accelerator. And more recently, Shamsa was shortlisted for Visa’s prestigious ‘She’s Next’ Oman People’s Favorite Award.
When asked about how Zumr fits in with Oman Vision 2040, she responded, ‘Our vision for Zumr aligns perfectly with Oman Vision 2040’s goals of fostering innovation and technology adoption. We aim to promote financial inclusion’. And with Zumr, she’s certainly making the Omani financial system more inclusive, one circle at a time.
When Laila Al Harthi founded Waqat Dawam in 2019, her aim was to modernize the gig economy and open more opportunities for Omanis. And in the role of CEO and Co-Founder of Waqt Dawam, together with her team, she has designed the country’s first online gig economy platform and changed how Omanis can access and secure full-time employment and freelance opportunities.
One of the platform’s key features, its ‘Jobs Gateway’, links individuals with job openings in a range of industries, helping them explore exciting career options while growing. The platform also brings together a diverse community of talented freelance consultants, experts, and businesses to encourage collaboration.
Through Waqt Dawam, Laila is bridging the gap between talent and opportunities in Oman, making meaningful connections and empowering young talent. But Laila’s impact extends beyond this product.
As the CTO of MALKS Group Company, she’s also successfully managed numerous projects for Omani companies across diverse industries. Her tech-related work has brought her a number of accolades across MENA including being selected as one of the best CTOs to attend GES 2016. In 2019, she was also recognized as one of the Top 50 innovative IT managers in the Middle East.
Her dedication has made her a true leader and inspiration in Oman and beyond, and we’re eager to follow her continuous contributions to the tech and entrepreneurship landscape in Oman.