Entrepreneurship in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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Govt body to coordinate SMEs development urged

By Joe Avancena


Saudi Gazette
DHAHRAN — A senior Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Center Company Limited (Wa’ed) official has proposed the establishment of national government body that will coordinate the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Fahad A. Al-Semari, head of Wa’ed, tabled the proposal in an address at the conclusion Tuesday of the three-day workshop titled Entrepreneurship Ecosystems of Universities held at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM). The workshop was attended by experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Our country should be developing Saudi entrepreneurs and not enterprises; and that the primary task of this agency that will coordinate SMEs development should be to encourage the growth of Saudi entrepreneurs. We should aim to make the country a nation of successful Saudi entrepreneurs,” Semari said. He said Saudi Aramco and KFUPM will jointly establish business incubation projects to support prospective Saudi entrepreneurs. He urged graduating students of KFUPM to take advantage of Saudi Aramco offer to provide them all the skills to be successful entrepreneurs. The center was set up last November to support young Saudis seeking to establish their own enterprises and has allotted $200 million to fund entrepreneurship projects. Semari, however, cited the need to improve the knowledge and culture of entrepreneurship. “There is the need to establish laws that support the growth of SMEs, educate the young to know more about building enterprises, provide training, build more infrastructures supporting SMEs, encourage more venture capital, and directed initiative to seek market opportunities.” A technical study jointly conducted by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) cited the following major problems of SMEs in Saudi Arabia, namely, lack of fund, lack of skilled human resources, lack of management skill, lack of marketing, lack of modern technology and cost problem relating to raw materials. The JICA-SAGIA also proposed the setting up of legal framework that will regulate SMEs, a national body that would coordinate and regulate the development of SMEs (as proposed by Wa’ed), establishment of association of SMEs, more training programs and financial assistance.

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