EMPWR, a UAE-based digital media agency dedicated to mental health, is an exclusive mental health partner for WAMDA and Microsoft for startups, to create and publish a research report on the mental health challenges and wellbeing of entrepreneurs due to Covid-19 in the MENA region. The report is the first to record data regarding the mental health and wellbeing of entrepreneurs in the region, with a specific focus on the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.
The results of the research indicate that startup founders undergo higher levels of stress, than the rest of the region, with twice the likelihood of developing depression issues. 55 percent of startup founders said that raising investment has caused the most stress; the pandemic was the second most-cited reason (33.7 percent). 35.9 percent of founders rate the state of their mental health as ‘bad’, and 44.2 percent spend at least two hours a week trying to de-stress. The report also includes a mapping of the mental health startups in Mena, a third of which were launched over this past year.
“It has been fascinating to witness the impact of relationships between start-up co-founders and their companies, in the aftermath of the global pandemic,” comments Ally Salama, CEO at EMPWR. “Many described their relationships with such partners and cohorts as being more like family. We found that entrepreneurs operating as a team were more likely to have a stronger sense of wellbeing, and suffer less loneliness. We have only begun to scratch the surface of this issue. Nuanced and detailed research is needed, to develop a more sophisticated understanding of this phenomenon.”
Other insights, uncovered by the report revealed that a good relationship between co-founders help startups navigate the pandemic-hit market. More than 95 percent of entrepreneurs view co-founders as family members and/or friends. The report also revealed that many entrepreneurs live well below their means to fund their ventures, leading to stress that is detrimental to their health.
While entrepreneurs are increasingly valuing their mental health more than ever, yet results show only 9.9 percent rate their mental health as good. The research also showed that there is a critical need for accessible, and affordable mental health services, that cater especially to entrepreneurs.
EMPWR has helped to formulate the questions for the survey, monitored the progress of the report, and led the project, along with Lara Fakih from WAMDA. EMPWR has also been instrumental in enabling the partnerships needed to generate the report – which included Labayh from the KSA; O7 Therapy from Egypt; Nafas from Oman; and My Wellbeing Lab, Takalam, Mindtales, and H.A.D. Consultants from the UAE.
With only 2 percent of healthcare budgets in the MENA region currently spent on addressing mental health, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on young entrepreneurs and achievers could lead to an economic burden of $1 trillion, by 2030.