RIYADH: RODOLFO C. ESTIMO
Published — Tuesday 4 November 2014
Last update 3 November 2014 11:05 pm
The first Global Business Entrepreneurship Forum took center stage on Monday with local and global speakers addressing the participants, with The Centennial Fund (TCF) GM Abdulaziz H. Al-Mutairi welcoming them.
He earlier told Arab News that TCF Chairman Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, also the deputy foreign minister, hoped to engender global entrepreneurship among young Saudi male and female youth.
“Deputy Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, TCF’s chairman of the board of directors, hopes that young entrepreneurs will grow by going global,” he said. TCF was created by a royal decree.
Al-Mutairi, also a member of TCF’s board of directors, thanked the participants and the global speakers who had traveled far and wide to attend the event.
Andrew Devenport, the Prince’s Youth Business International (YBI) CEO, said: “From its very formation, the Centennial Fund became a leader of Youth Business International (YBI) network and it has been a privilege for me and my team to serve it for the past decade.”
He said that the role of international organizations in supporting entrepreneurship depends on the particular goals of that support and the context in which it is given. Devenport said that it’s very fashionable to talk about entrepreneurial ecosystem and it is a good way of representing the complexity of support necessary to foster successful societies.
“Good national entrepreneur support initiatives invariably draw on the synergies of international help. The role of international partners is to share best practice, to act as disseminators of the experience of other national initiatives and must add value and efficiency to the process that a national initiative could always undertake itself,” Devenport added.
Citing an example, he said that the Centennial Fund made great care to build a robust set of IT systems and processes before it opened its doors to its first young entrepreneurs.
Citing another example, he said: “Abdulaziz (Al-Mutairi) and I were fortunate enough to attend the Clinton Global Initiative a few years ago. We used the occasion with former US President William Clinton to launch together a commitment of focus on youth entrepreneurship in the MENA.”
As a result, he added, “we have been able to extend our network in Tunisia and Jordan as we have plans in progress in Morocco, the UAE and Lebanon.” Gregoire Sentilhes, NextStage chairman and CEO, spoke on the Vital role of entrepreneurs in job creation.
Sentilhes, also the co-founder and chairman of Citizen Entrepreneurs in France, said that there’s a need to “design and build the new players in the 21st century economy both in the developed and developing countries.”
He noted that 85 percent of jobs in the European Union (EU) were created by entrepreneurs, 66 percent in the OECD and 57 percent were created by the fastest growing entrepreneurs.
South Korea’s Michael Lee, who runs his own business organization, spoke about the role of international organizations in supporting entrepreneurship.
He said that entrepreneurs absorb ideas when they go overseas but they must stick to their own ecosystem.
Answering a question on entrepreneurship among young women, Lama Sulaiman, a Saudi board member of Rolaco Holdings in the Kingdom and Luxembourg, said that women are as capable as men as entrepreneurs.
She’s also the vice-chairwoman of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce & Industry and owner of the Chamelle Health Club for women in Jeddah.
Randah Bessiso, founding director of the Middle East Center at the Manchester Business School in the University of Manchester, said that women entrepreneurs could work collaboratively with men counterparts.
Christin Peiffer, secretary general of the International Network for SMEs since January 2012, also participated in the panel discussions.