Purpose: The current research proposes a model that integrates certain psychological and demographic factors in developing and strengthening young Saudi women's perceptions of entrepreneurial resourcefulness, which eventually may lead to the development and enhancement of their entrepreneurial intentions. The study also examines the ways in which changing socio-cultural norms and values may augment investments and/or efforts to enhance cognitive enablers, including entrepreneurial resourcefulness, and thereby build and strengthen entrepreneurial intentions among female entrepreneurs (i.e. human capital) in a transitioning society. Saudi Arabia is a relevant research context because the Saudi government has invested enormous resources to develop the country's human capital, particularly Saudi government intends to enhance Saudi women's participation in entrepreneurial spheres to be enhanced significantly. Saudi Arabia is undergoing a radical socio-cultural transition, and the kingdom seeks to capitalise on this ongoing transformation to further encourage women to tap into their under-utilised potential. This study seeks to corroborate such moderation effects. Design/methodology/approach: The authors utilise the intellectual capital (IC) framework and theory of planned behaviour (TBP) to propose the conceptual model in this study. Using a sample of 628 young female respondents – potential entrepreneurs studying at various universities in Saudi Arabia, the authors test the hypothesised associations through partial least squares (PLS)-based path modelling. Findings: The authors found a significant positive impact of psychological factors, such as perceived behavioural control, attitude towards entrepreneurship, subjective norms and entrepreneurial self-efficacy, on the development and enhancement of perceived entrepreneurial resourcefulness. In addition, demographic factors, including family income, family background, family business experience and entrepreneurship education, play a significant positive role in enhancing individuals' entrepreneurial resourcefulness perceptions. The authors further found that enhanced perceptions of perceived entrepreneurial resourcefulness develop and enhance entrepreneurial intentions among female entrepreneurs. However, the transformation in social and cultural norms significantly moderates this cause and effect relationship. Originality/value: This study is among the first of its kind to investigate the moderating effects of social and cultural transformation on efforts and/or investments to enhance intellectual capital (more specifically, human capital) and thereby promote entrepreneurship. The study is also valuable for its focus on a unique context, i.e. female entrepreneurship in the Middle East and, more specifically, Saudi Arabia. The study offers useful insights and implications both for theory and practice, particularly for policymakers seeking to augment their intellectual capital formation efforts through an effective orchestration of socio-cultural transformation, which seeks to empower female entrepreneurs to succeed in the face of significant socio-cultural impediments.