Saudi female entrepreneurs exploit changing attitudes

CNN) -- It's not easy being a female entrepreneur in a country where women need a male guardian's permission to work, rent property or travel.

Yet in Saudi Arabia, a small but determined number of women are overcoming these obstacles to build their own thriving businesses.

Social constraints in the conservative Kingdom have not stopped women from amassing substantial individual wealth. An estimated $11.9 billion is held by women primarily in bonds and bank accounts, according to asset managers Al Masah Capital.

As it seeks to hedge against its overdependence on oil, there is increasing government recognition that women have a part to play in Saudi's economic development.

It has led to a moderate winding back of restrictions on women in the Kingdom smoothing the way for a new generation of young entrepreneurs, like Maria Mahdaly.