Let us talk entrepreneurship
I believe that entrepreneurship education is vital for any country. I was vice chair of the Berkeley Postdoctoral Entrepreneurship Program at the University of California, and saw firsthand how it helps its students start businesses while still enrolled. One of the things we organized for our students was talks with companies from Silicon Valley, often established while their founders were still in school. Of course, there were companies like Google as well, but it was the combination of giants with small and medium companies that enriched the experience for the students.
Now, this was in San Francisco and you might say it is no comparison with what we have in Saudi Arabia or the Gulf area. My response is that we have to work hard on exposing our students to this environment at an early age so we too can be major players.
Teaching entrepreneurship at university and at school is the best way to tackle unemployment. When I read that the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (Monsha’at) will work together with the Saudi Ministry of Education to teach it in the Kingdom’s high schools, I was delighted.
Saudi Vision 2030 has ambitious objectives that require the country to unleash its entrepreneurial potential. This can be done by building an education system aligned with economic needs and opportunities, helping students to help themselves. Introducing entrepreneurship to the curriculum will do just that. Monsha’at has a big responsibility, along with the wider government, to encourage and change our cultural perspective that the end goal after graduating from university is not to find a job, but rather to create jobs for oneself and others.
As this topic is very dear to my heart, I am following the progress of this initiative closely. It has already led to the signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2017 between Monsha’at and the ministry, to incorporate entrepreneurship education into all levels of education. Hats off to them, but now we need more. We must pay attention to and focus on the implementation process which is equally, if not more, important, so we can have children who think outside the box, and nurture unconventional talents, skills and sectors to build the Saudi economy of the future.
Dr. Taghreed Al-Saraj is a best-selling Saudi author, an international public speaker and an entrepreneurship mentor.