The benefits of entrepreneurship


Who is entrepreneurship for? Who does it benefit? Is it just about the entrepreneur’s personal success?
There are certainly many entrepreneurs who have become incredibly successful in their own right: Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, or Saudi Arabia’s Abdul Aziz Al-Jouf, CEO and founder of the payment processing company PayTabs. These individuals are testament to the personal success that an entrepreneur can achieve.
But the true impact of entrepreneurship goes beyond one person. While success may come from that entrepreneurial spark in a single person or small team, the benefits reach much wider into communities and countries.
Within a community the benefits of entrepreneurship and the startups they create emanate outward in ripples to provide local services, create local jobs, support local products and produce, and strengthen communities.
At a national level a thriving startup ecosystem will drive innovation, improve overall economic performance, and also encourage entrepreneurs, creating a virtuous circle of positive benefits. In short, entrepreneurialism can benefit us all and it’s to all our advantage to see that entrepreneurialism is supported.
This thought struck me particularly hard while watching startups in the Misk 500 Accelerator Program as they delivered virtual pitches.
There were 16 startups from across the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, that presented their business startups to potential investors. These young innovators and future business leaders had ideas for a range of sectors – banking, tourism, fashion, maintenance services, mobility, health and fitness – and it revealed the breadth of talent and creativity that exists among young entrepreneurs in our country and across our region.
One thing in particular jumped out at me across all these companies and ideas. They were talking to an international audience to attract investment into Saudi Arabia and their own countries – Egypt, Jordan, and the UAE. Not only that, many of their services and products were targeted at their home countries and communities. I encourage anyone who hasn’t watched the pitches to take the opportunity to watch and hear just how many of the entrepreneurs talked about the lack of a particular service or the existence of a specific opportunity within their country or community and how their idea met that need.
Why is that exciting? Because it shows that innovation and opportunities are everywhere.
That’s something we’ve been arguing for a while at Misk. We’re doing it through the Misk 500 Accelerator Program and we’re doing it through the Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC), which is now in its second year. We’re giving young entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia and around the world the opportunities, tools, skills, networks, and encouragement they need to become successful and to share that success around.
It speaks to our philosophy at Misk: Not to offer handouts but hand-ups, not to lecture but to listen, to empower young people not because they are a problem to be solved, but because they are the greatest problem-solvers in the world.
Speaking personally and doing this as a Saudi entity, albeit one with a global focus (it’s in our name, after all), gives me enormous pride because it means we can play a real part in contributing to the Vision 2030 reform plan and the wider transformation of our Kingdom.
Fundamentally, that vision is about realizing our nation as an internationally looking economy, and one that has empowered us – its own citizens – to make the most of the skills, opportunities, and ambitions within us. Entrepreneurship is a clear road to achieving those Vision 2030 goals.
Saudi Arabia is already making strides. Last year Saudi startups saw a record $67 million in investment. The World Economic Forum listed 10 Saudi startups in its list of the 100 most promising startups in the world. Indeed one of these – Ajeer – pitched in the Misk 500 demo day I mentioned; and Red Sea Farms, another Saudi startup, placed second in the EWC global finals.
This growth in startups and innovation is already helping us, Saudi Arabia, prepare for the fourth industrial revolution with new skills and get more young people and women working with new opportunities.
Ultimately, we’re about building bridges and opening doors to success. Not for ourselves and not just for the entrepreneurs. But for the wider society we’re all a part of – whether it’s a town, a province, this whole Kingdom or beyond.

Shaima Hamidaddin is executive manager of the Misk Global Forum.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Canon supports Saudi health care sector with medical scholarship

Time: 07 June, 2020

Canon Saudi Arabia has partnered with Mohammed Al-Mana College for Medical Sciences for a scholarship grant, demonstrating its commitment to promoting medical education among Saudi nationals as well as advancing women in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

As part of the partnership, Canon will grant a full-term scholarship to one female student of Mohammed-Al-Mana College of Medical Sciences. The initiative aims to build the talent pipeline of medical professionals, particularly in the nursing field, to further support the health care sector.

Mohammed Al-Mana College of Medical Sciences specializes in health care education and applied vocational training for a mainly female student-base, located in Dammam.

Canon’s support also salutes the dedication of the college’s founder Dr. Aisha Al-Mana to female empowerment through education.

Mai Youssef, corporate communications and marketing services director, Canon Middle East, said: “We are committed to creating employment and development opportunities for young people in Saudi Arabia that support economic diversification, and contributing to socio-economic progress in line with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030. There is no better time than now to support the education of Saudi nationals in medical fields, especially nursing, so they can continue to contribute to the delivery and advancement of a robust health care sector. Our initiative reflects our commitment to the communities in which we operate and our corporate culture of kyosei.”

Dr. Aisha Al-Mana, founder and general supervisor of Mohammed Al-Mana College for Medical Sciences, said: “Education is key to empowerment. The commitment from private sector organizations such as Canon is critical to driving forward the education of young people, in particular females. Our college was established with women’s empowerment as a top priority, and we are delighted to partner with Canon in support of this important cause. We aim to educate and support the next generation of female medical professionals in the Kingdom to support the wider goals of our leadership to provide opportunities for all.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Bupa Arabia supports the underprivileged & orphans

Time: 26 May, 2020

Bupa Arabia’s free health insurance program for orphans offers a range of quality services, including regular checkups, all treatments, a designated hotline to receive calls, and health education workshops to raise awareness.

Bupa Arabia for Cooperative Insurance has partnered with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to distribute 3,000 food baskets among underprivileged families, which are registered with the ministry’s Social Welfare and Family Welfare Agency. The initiative comes in line with the spirit of Ramadan, a month of giving, and in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

This year, orphans who are covered under Bupa Arabia’s free health insurance program will help in preparing and distributing the baskets to inculcate a sense of giving among them.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Wahaibi, undersecretary at the Social Welfare and Family Welfare Agency, hailed Bupa Arabia’s move to involve orphans in preparing and distributing baskets under the supervision of the agency, saying: “This is a caring gesture from Bupa Arabia, and it promotes a sense of belonging among orphans while cultivating the principles of giving, communication and closeness between them and society.”

He added that the initiative supports what the company has been offering orphans for years. More than 2,600 orphans, living in more than 47 homes across the Kingdom, benefit from Bupa Arabia’s free health insurance program. The program includes divorced orphans and widows who live with their children in social care homes.

Loay Hisham Nazer, chairman of Bupa Arabia, said: “The orphans will be joining hands to assemble and distribute baskets to the families in an attempt to get a sense of the pride of giving during the holy month. We’ve also extended this to our employees, who collectively prepared 411 food baskets. We hope that we make a real and positive impact through this initiative.”

Bupa Arabia was the first company to offer free health insurance for residents of “Dar Al-Rafeef” in 2011. Three years later, in 2014, the program expanded to cover all orphans residing in shelters supervised by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development.

“We believe that in order to play a proactive role in society, we need to provide more than just health insurance; we should aim to become the health care partner for every orphan in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, we would like them to know that we are always by their side,” Nazer said, adding that the orphans receive special treatment and the same services that are given to some VIP clients.

The free health insurance program offers a range of quality services, including a designated hotline to receive calls and provide immediate assistance. Bupa Arabia also developed an integrated program that enables doctors to visit beneficiaries periodically for checkups, and regularly organizes health education workshops to raise awareness. The program is approved by the Cooperative Health Insurance Council and covers all treatments, including plastic surgery, dermatology, and even cases that are not covered by regular health insurance.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Salman Faqeeh, managing director of Cisco Saudi Arabia

Time: 21 April, 2020

Salman Faqeeh
  • Faqeeh obtained a bachelor’s degree in management information systems in 2002 from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals

Salman Faqeeh has been the managing director of Cisco Saudi Arabia since October 2018.
Cisco has been identified as one of the “Best Workplaces in Saudi Arabia” by Great Place to Work (GPTW)- Middle East, achieving second position in this year’s rankings.
GPTW evaluates an organization’s success based on a comprehensive employee satisfaction survey and external audit.
“We are extremely grateful to see the recognition that Cisco Saudi Arabia is receiving,” Faqeeh said. “I would like to thank each and every person on our team, who helps create a work environment which we look forward to each day. We will continue to uphold these values and ensure that Cisco remains one of the best companies to work for in the Kingdom.”
Faqeeh obtained a bachelor’s degree in management information systems in 2002 from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.
He began his professional career at Microsoft as an account manager for the company’s communications sector.
Faqeeh joined Cisco Saudi Arabia in August 2006 and has held several positions there since then.
During his long tenure with Cisco, he managed important clients and strengthened ties with vital sectors such as defense, health care and energy.
He also served as Cisco operations manager, leading and managing the public sector in the Kingdom.

This article was first published in Arab News

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ACWA Power to build mobile hospital in Madinah

Time: 15 April, 2020

The signing for the 100-bed mobile hospital in Madinah was executed by Thamer Al-Sharhan from ACWA Power and Essam Al-Muhaidib from THABAT.

Energy and desalinated water provider ACWA Power and THABAT will build a 100-bed integrated mobile hospital, fully resourced with the medical equipment and supplies needed to treat COVID-19 cases. The new hospital is expected to be operational within 70 days and will provide comprehensive health care services and aid in handling the pandemic.
The agreement between ACWA Power and THABAT was concluded under the patronage, and in presence of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, minister of energy; Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, minister of health; and Mohammad Abunayyan, chairman of ACWA Power. The signing was executed by Thamer Al-Sharhan, representing ACWA Power, and Essam Al-Muhaidib, representing THABAT.
Abunayyan said: “I would like to extend my deep appreciation to Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, minister of energy, for his kind support in enabling us to implement our initiative to build a mobile hospital for combatting the spread of COVID-19. This initiative is part of the efforts driven by the national energy sector to address the crisis in our beloved Kingdom.”
Abunayyan extended his appreciation to Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman for his generous support in facilitating the agreement for ACWA Power’s community-based initiative. The governor played an invaluable role in expediting processes, allocating land for the hospital, and providing optimum support from the official bodies of the governorate to complete the project within its required time frame.
The new hospital will be fully dedicated to caring for COVID-19 patients. It comes as part of ACWA Power’s commitment to reinforcing the efforts of the Saudi energy sector to enhance preventive actions taken by the Saudi Ministry of Health during these times.


The new hospital is expected to be operational within 70 days and will provide comprehensive health care services and aid in handling the pandemic.

As per the agreement, ACWA Power will utilize its expertise and capabilities in the swift implementation and delivery of projects that require the highest standards of safety and security. Upon completion of construction within 70 days, the assets and contracts will be handed over to the Ministry of Health.
Abunayyan added: “We are an active part of the Saudi energy sector, and remain in full solidarity with all national initiatives to overcome this crisis. Leveraging our technical expertise and capabilities in mobilizing and deploying highly secured projects, we believe this project will supplement existing medical resources by providing a dedicated facility, quickly and efficiently to help diagnose, support and treat COVID-19 patients.”
Abunayyan lauded the efforts of Minister of Health Dr. Al-Rabiah for enabling the execution of ACWA Power’s initiative. He praised the Ministry of Health and its various sectors and bodies for their heroic endeavors undertaken to confront the spread of the pandemic since its emergence. He also applauded their role in implementing precautionary and preventive measures to protect the citizens and residents’ health and safety across the Kingdom.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Bahri donates SR10m to help combat COVID-19

Time: 02 April, 2020

Mohammed Abdul Aziz Al-Sarhan, chairman of Bahri.

Bahri, a Saudi provider of logistics and transportation, announced that its board of directors has recently approved a donation of SR10 million ($2.7 million) to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health (MoH) to support its initiatives against the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in the Kingdom.

Mohammed Abdul Aziz Al-Sarhan, chairman of Bahri, said: “Given the current global situation and challenges resulting from the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Bahri is pleased to express gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. We also extend our appreciation to the government sectors in general, and the MoH in particular, for their round-the-clock, tireless efforts to ensure the safety and health of citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia.”

Al-Sarhan added: “Underlining its social responsibility commitment to cooperating with all entities in the Kingdom to strengthen the national efforts and support the government during this period, Bahri decided to donate SR10 million to back the initiatives of the MoH to contain the outbreak.” We are also pleased to place our expertise, maritime fleet, logistics services, and offices around the world at the disposal of the ministry, to help achieve the common national goal of preserving public health.”

Bahri has taken all the necessary precautionary measures to ensure the safety of its employees at its offices and onboard vessels. The company is operating as normal to deliver on its commitment to its customers around the world and to ensure that they receive the highest quality service without disruption. As it continues to evaluate the situation, Bahri is also keen to implement further instructions and preventive measures being issued by the government of Saudi Arabia.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi retail giant BinDawood reports 200% growth in online sales amid coronavirus pandemic

Time: 27 March, 2020

App installations of BinDawood Holding’s two e-commerce platforms – Danube and BinDawood Online – topped 400 percent. (Supplied)

DUBAI: Saudi Arabian retailer BinDawood Holding has seen a 200 percent increase in its online sales since the escalation of the coronavirus crisis.

BinDawood Holding’s two e-commerce platforms – Danube and BinDawood Online – have recorded a “significant upturn in organic growth the last few weeks”, according to Majed M. Al-Tahan, the co-founder and managing director of Danube Online.

“Our average sales on a 10-day basis has shot up 200 percent, with our average order value up 50 percent and our app installations topping 400 percent,” Al-Tahan said. “The demand has been so great that we are adding jobs [such as packers and drivers]. It has been an incredibly busy period.”

Ahmad AR. BinDawood, chief executive of Danube & BinDawood, BinDawood Holding, said all its stores remain open in the Kingdom, with additional stringent sanitization measures to protect its customers and staff.

“All our 72 stores remain open and we continue to provide effective customer service as we play an important role in serving the communities across the kingdom,” BinDawood said.

“This week, as planned, the newest Danube store opened in Al Andalus in Riyadh, with the support of the government, to cope with the demand that is happening,” he added.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Halalah secures SAMA’s fintech license

Time: 24 March, 2020

Esam Al-Nahdi Founder and CEO of Halalah

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) announced last week that Halalah has successfully attained the full e-money institution license (EMI) in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-based fintech company has been operating in the local market previously under a sandbox trial period license. Halalah managed to “graduate” from the trial period ahead of schedule after complying with all regulatory requirements that focused on the maturity of product, the structure of the company, the agility of its processes and the security of its infrastructure.
“Halalah is not your typical startup, as it has gone through a long journey in a short period of time to reach where it is today,” said Founder and CEO Esam Al-Nahdi. Starting in Saudi Arabia with clear ambitions for the regional fintech market, the company got licensed in UAE in 2017 by the FSRA’s Fintech RegLab in Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), before coming back to Saudi Arabia to get SAMA’s sandbox approval in the first quarter of 2018, to kick-start its operations in November 2018.
“Throughout 2019, Halalah managed to institutionalize its operating model, and build a robust infrastructure and product engine, as well as striking a few strategic partnerships that will cater to the needs of the new generation of customers and putting the company in the right position to achieve its local, regional and global plans,” added Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Maher Loubieh.
With the full license now obtained, “the next milestone in Saudi Arabia is to relaunch Halalah KSA with a new set of financial services and products that will enable customers to manage their finances and do transactions through Halalah,” said Al-Nahdi.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Kaspersky partners with SAFCSP to train youth

Time: 17 March, 2020

Kaspersky has updated their memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Federation for Cyber Security, Programming and Drones.

Kaspersky, a global cybersecurity solutions provider, has updated their memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Federation for Cyber Security, Programming and Drones (SAFCSP). Both entities have once again joined forces to achieve their mutual goal of preparing and enhancing the skills of the youth of Saudi Arabia to prepare for careers in cybersecurity.
Kaspersky will pave the way toward accomplishing this goal by supporting the SAFCSP in its CyberHub initiative. The CyberHub will reach out to students from 28 different universities from across the Kingdom and establish specialized cybersecurity clubs. Kaspersky will provide SAFCSP with training materials and a comprehensive curriculum on cybersecurity and programming.
Amir Kanaan, managing director for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, at Kaspersky, said: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with the SAFCSP. By joining forces with Saudi Arabia’s government, Kaspersky is helping to build the next-generation of well-equipped cybersecurity leaders. This partnership also highlights the importance of private and government entities coming together to equip the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the means to enhance their technological advancements.”


The CyberHub will reach out to students from 28 different universities from across the Kingdom and establish specialized Cybersecurity Clubs.

Mohammed Alghamdi, cybersecurity track manager at the SAFCSP, said: “As we work toward increasing the Kingdom’s cyber readiness we see that there is a greater need for cybersecurity experts. The best way to address this gap in cybersecurity is to empower the youth with the skills needed to enter this field. It is through partnerships like this one that we are able to address this gap. It is only when governments and companies band together in order to share and exchange knowledge that we are able to create an initiative like the CyberHub.”
In addition to providing a curriculum to follow, Kaspersky will contribute to CyberHub by conducting various conferences, workshops and competitions to make learning more interesting. The company will also invite speakers and guests to provide students with a first-hand overview of the requirements, opportunities, and challenges in the cybersecurity space.

This article was first published in Arab News

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IT firm Noha Alwosta expansion in line with Vision 2030

Time: 16 March, 2020

Saajan Lathif, managing director of Noha Alwosta.

IT company Noha Alwosta is seeking to expand its business across the member states of the GCC, with a primary focus on Saudi Arabia. The ambitious expansion plan of Noha Alwosta is in line with Saudi Vision 2030, which calls for setting up a sophisticated digital infrastructure in the country, said Saajan Lathif, managing director of Noha Alwosta.
“Alwosta today ranks as a leading global information technology company offering solutions in the Middle East region, including Saudi Arabia. We are a leader in the global consulting delivering business, technology and outsourcing services,” said Lathif.
Referring to the services being offered by Alwosta, he said: “We offer a full suite of IT services and solutions including ERP (enterprise resource planning) implementation, project management, system consulting, EAI (enterprise application integration), application development, migration and re-engineering, business process management, data warehousing, data management, and business intelligence. We also provide networking and support.”
The company, which has opened offices in the Kingdom, also offers a range of IT solutions for small and medium enterprises. “These affordable solutions are designed to fit your needs — both now and in the future,” said the Alwosta chief, adding that they have the potential to develop innovative products and services for new and existing markets.
Lathif said the company can also help clients to cut procurement costs, build collaborative supplier relationships, and streamline purchasing and sourcing processes. “Alwosta offers solutions to manage procure-to-pay processes in one, unified solution besides enabling self-service procurement and automated workflows,” he said.
The young Indian entrepreneur, from the southern Indian city of Bengaluru, also known as the “Silicon Valley of India,” overcame his humble beginnings to become the owner of the IT consulting company.
Lathif said the company is also planning to open 12 world-class cafes in Saudi Arabia this year. Commenting on the unusual combination of an IT business and a food and beverage business, he said: “Entrepreneurship to me is a way of life. I am the kind of person that is always looking for new adventures, new challenges, and new people.”
He added: “I have created some projects in the real estate sector as well and this is what entrepreneurship is all about, a lot of trial and error. But it also comes with a huge learning curve with business lessons.

This article was first published in Arab News

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