Poised For Growth: The Potential For High Return On Investment In The Emerging Femtech Sector
The UAE is well-positioned to achieve exponential growth within the femtech industry, considering the array of existing startups providing feminine hygiene products and educational tools.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
While the femtech industry emerged nearly a decade ago, many areas related to female health remain underserved today.
According to FemTech Analytics, a subsidiary of Deep Knowledge Group, femtech (female technology) is defined as software, diagnostics, products, and services that use technology to focus on women's health and wellness. Femtech businesses and investments have been primarily focusing on reproductive health and nursing, leaving behind several other subsectors such as women's wellness, menstrual health, contraception, longevity, pregnancy, general health care, mental health, and pelvic and uterine health care.
In the UAE, femtech growth prospects for the near and medium-term future are quite strong, offering investors a huge opportunity for differentiated returns through funding. One-third of MENA's femtech companies are based in the UAE, where innovation, women empowerment, and gender equality are matters of national priority. Approximately 60% of UAE-based femtech companies are addressing women's wellness and menstrual health. However, companies focusing on sexual health and menopause care are virtually nonexistent.
The UAE is well-positioned to achieve exponential growth within the femtech industry, considering the array of existing startups providing feminine hygiene products and educational tools such as Pectiv, Orgabliss, MyLily and LiZZOM, and several more expected to launch over the coming few years. Meanwhile, Nabta Health, a Sharjah-based disruptive healthcare technology company, is building a decentralized, woman-centric model of healthcare for emerging markets. By combining the best of digital and traditional healthcare alongside clinical pathways to create a unique hybrid healthcare ecosystem, Nabta Health provides personalized, end-to-end support for women- from the acknowledgement of a specific health goal, through diagnosis, to holistic treatment options and beyond.
According to our recent report, e-commerce platforms focused on women's healthcare represent a key driver of the UAE's femtech sector. Digital platforms in the pregnancy and nursing sub -ector offering consumer products for mums-to-be, new mums, and children include Mama's Box, Mumzworld, and BabySouk.com. Most investors in the MENA region are men, and the lack of understanding of female healthcare needs makes them reluctant to invest in female-related products. In addition, most femtech startups in the UAE are founded and led by women, who tend to receive less funding than their male-led counterparts. Despite the increasing interest from governments, entrepreneurs and investors in recent years, the industry remains underestimated and brimming with potential.
Source: Deep Knowledge Group
Related: Bridge Medical GPO Partners With Dubai-Based Social Enterprise Enable To Develop Employment Opportunities For The UAE's People Of Determination
The lack of market research and data is also a major femtech challenge. This is where we at FemTech Analytics play a key role in providing market data and insights. To further tackle these issues, we strive to raise awareness about the importance of femtech, its purpose and prospects. As an analytics agency and investor, we are committed to spreading knowledge and organizing industry events, offering networking opportunities and creating platforms to strengthen the femtech ecosystem, and investing in high-growth femtech startups. As part of our webinar series, we have recently hosted a virtual conference titled Raising Capital in Femtech: Opportunities and Challenges offering a knowledge platform to address questions about common mistakes femtech founders make while pitching their businesses, and ways in which they can adjust their pitches in order to be more inclusive while remaining true to their vision.
Globally and in MENA, there is a huge gap in the women's healthcare sector. We need to refine and elevate the discourse on women's well-being, enabling communities to develop an in-depth understanding of the role of technology in advancing women's health. Such efforts will eventually enable the femtech market to achieve significant growth. Narrowing the gender fundraising gap is a key factor in overcoming femtech challenges. Through building awareness and sharing knowledge, women will eventually be able to have access to equal funding opportunities compared to male founders. In addition, we believe the government has a major role to play in supporting femtech founders. We look forward to seeing more UAE companies utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning to advance women's well-being. This is a niche market segment brimming with potential.
Globally, there is still a lot of stigma attached to many female health topics, including menstruation, sexual wellness, and menopause. Femtech entrepreneurs continue to face challenges given the sensitive nature of the sector. However, nations such as the UAE are leading the way and gradually breaking down taboos surrounding female health thanks to a culture of openness, high-levels of health awareness, and the tech savviness of the government, the private sector, and civil society. As a result, society at large is becoming more and more receptive to engage in conversations about such topics, and embrace positive change in support of the femtech sector.
Related: The Rise Of Recommerce: How The Secondhand Electronics Market Is Growing In The GCC And Beyond