KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia: Muna Abusulyman, the media personality and entrepreneur, is to launch a new app designed to lure away some of the billions of dollars in advertising spent each year in Saudi Arabia with the the big social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google Ads.
Revenue raised from the initiative will be spent instead on Saudi non-profit organizations (NPOs) as a way of enabling them to capture more financial resources. It will be called Niya - the Arabic phrase for “good intentions” - and she plans to launch it during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Arab Women Forum in King Abdullah Economic City near Jeddah, Abusulyman told Arab News: “All that money spent online on social media is going out to the Kingdom, so I would like to divert that back to Saudi Arabia. That way we can use the goodwill of the Saudi population and their social media use to create social revenue streams for NPOs.”
Some 13 organizations have already signed up, like charities and support groups for orphans, female employment and autism. There are around 1400 such NOPs in the Kingdom.
She said the initiative was being launched in support of the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the economy away from oil dependency and the public sector. “The idea behind Vision 2030 is to encourage businesses that will create value for the country. Niya would keep money, that at the moment goes outside, inside the Kingdom. I’m tired of giving other people our money.”
She said full details would be revealed on the company website and social media at time of launch.
She is believed to have secured financing for the project from a Saudi investor.
Abusulyman was speaking after appearing on a panel devoted to the role of women entrepreneurs in the Saudi economic transformation. She said that the Kingdom’s female workforce was adept at running small start ups, often based in their own homes, but that was often the limit.
“It’s very difficult for women to take the next step. There are a lot of constraints on them - social, cultural and financial - towards going further. And they have the responsibility of the family and home too.”
She continued: ‘The number of Saudi women who apply for and get government funding is low. The banks, a lot of the time, don’t provide entrepreneurial funds anyway. But men who want to raise capital have an easier time because of their circle of friends and contacts, which women do not have.
“In Saudi, we’re creating a lot more opportunities for women who want income, a job outside the home, and all the other opportunities of a more modern economy,” she added.
She said that her TV show Kalam Nawaem on MBC channel was “all about the energy of social change and innovation,” and that she was aiming to air more content concerning the digital and hi-tech sectors. “It is all about giving the right information to the right people at the right time,” she added.