Women, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability: The Case of Saudi Arabia
2. Literature Review
2.1. Sustainability and Green Entrepreneurship
2.2. Women and Green Entrepreneurship
2.3. Drivers of Sustainable Entrepreneurial Action
2.4. The Saudi Context
3.1. Qualitative Methodology
3.2. Sample Selection and Method
3.3. Data Analysis
4.1. Perceptions and Understanding of Sustainability
“I think sustainability is a critical issue for youth and the current generation, especially business owners. I believe it is important to spread information about it since it is critical for economic, intellectual and even academic development. In terms of how to implement the academic and theoretical research in all aspects of sustainability and at all levels, not just companies (are involved). This is my point of view, there are so many individuals who would like to participate in sustainability, however they do not know how to or which direction they should follow. They think it’s quite a difficult thing to do, due to a lack of understanding, a lack of tools, or an inability to use them” (Participant N. 8, group-2-entrepreneurs).
4.2. Sustainability Is Not an Opportunity
“I guess of course it’s possible, but if the level of awareness has been raised and there is a missing link, yeah, the recycling process has something missing… like in our hospital we had an experience where we had a recycling program for paper. We ended up with stacks of paper because we don’t have a recycling paper factory in the Eastern region, so there was a missing link. Yeah, the cycle was not complete. I mean it’s not a one man show, it’s for everyone, and everyone has their own task” (Participant N. 8, group-2-entrepreneurs).
“In my chocolate business, for example, I started a recycling initiative. I offered the customers who return the chocolate packages to refill it for a discount to encourage them to recycle the packages and reduce the waste and harmful packaging……… For me the practice in fact was at the beginning of my business to reduce my costs. However, the act continued later on as participation in protecting the environment, and it turned out to be a sustainable act and became one of my business activities and responsibilities not just with an aim to cut costs” (Participant N.5, group-2-entrepreneurs).
4.3. It Is a “Top-Down” and Not a “Bottom-Up” Initiative
“I suggest that there should be restrictions and governmental regulations to force sustainability. For example, people stopped throwing rubbish in the street when the government enacted fines for the violators” (Participant N.9, group-2-entrepreneurs).
4.4. Socio-Cultural Structure Is Reflected in Passive Behaviour
“Yes, as a Muslim community we should be committed to preserve resources and save/preserve grace (Ar: hifz alniema) and not be extravagant with resources, all of these issues are sustainability practices. However, I believe up till now the social culture of our society as Saudi people does not support sustainability in general, as individuals or enterprises. Despite what (another participant) mentioned where our Islamic religion asserts and encourages sustainability behaviour, in fact on the contrary, we use everything extravagantly. Let me give you an example, one of our slogans at the university is to be a “paperless University”. However, all our work is paper based. So, we suffer from a shortage of paper and printer ink, because we extensively use them in all communications and transactions using traditional ways” (Participant N.4, group-1-nascent entrepreneur).
“In terms of socio-cultural aspects, the majority of people don’t have any idea about sustainability and generally lack awareness. Saudi people, in addition to being true Muslims, are so patriotic and love their country, they get so emotional towards anything that would support their country. So, if we relate sustainability to religion and patriotism, they would do anything and I believe they will act more to achieve sustainability goals” (Participant N.3, group-2-entrepreneurs).
4.5. Challenges for Sustainability Involvement and Participation
“From my point of view, I do not think there is anything different about Saudi people to drive them towards sustainability. They are just like anyone else around the world. On the contrary, up till now we do not have sufficient awareness about sustainability and I do not believe we, as Saudi people, will take serious actions towards sustainability without the help of the authorities and strict legislation for both people and organisations. There should be motivation provided for them. If there is no such motivation, they will not get involved. There are already many regulations for sustainability which have been in place for a long time already. Take, for example, when the government required planting outside the populated cities, to reduce air pollution in the cities and protect people’s health. Then we started to notice specific terms for plants and any type of activities that would cause harm to the environment” (Participant N.3, group-1-nascent entrepreneur).
“There are so many (construction) developments in Saudi Arabia and there are many plans running currently and there will be always plans. However, business practices such as pollution and global warming, will always constitute a challenge for us and the country to overcome” (Participant N.7, group-2-entrepreneurs).
“I think this should be a concern, for all of us and each one of us should have his own task towards sustainable water in Saudi Arabia because we don’t have enough water in Saudi Arabia and we have a very dry climate. We have to realise that pollution is growing day after day. So, I think, each person should have his own task. We have limited water and natural resources in Saudi Arabia” (Participant N.2, group-2-entrepreneurs).
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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Abdelwahed, N.A.A.; Bastian, B.L.; Wood, B.P. Women, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability: The Case of Saudi Arabia. Sustainability 2022, 14, 11314. https://doi.org/10.3390/su141811314
Abdelwahed NAA, Bastian BL, Wood BP. Women, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability: The Case of Saudi Arabia. Sustainability. 2022; 14(18):11314. https://doi.org/10.3390/su141811314Chicago/Turabian Style
Abdelwahed, Nadia A. Abdelmegeed, Bettina Lynda Bastian, and Bronwyn P. Wood. 2022. "Women, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability: The Case of Saudi Arabia" Sustainability 14, no. 18: 11314. https://doi.org/10.3390/su141811314