JEDDAH: Thursday’s G20 Young Entrepreneur’s Alliance (YEA) Summit focused heavily on the way in which numerous small businesses and entrepreneurs have successfully pivoted to adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and shown that they can be valuable partners in keeping economies afloat.
The virtual event, which continues Friday, brought together thousands of business leaders and talented young entrepreneurs from across the world.
G20 YEA Saudi chair, Prince Fahad bin Mansour bin Nasser, told the audience, ”Our theme for this year is entrepreneurship as a source of innovation and resilience as we reflect on the challenges facing the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is clear that adopting an entrepreneurial mindset is becoming more vital than ever.”
He added: “Here in Saudi Arabia, we are blessed with outstanding infrastructure and the government’s support to help entrepreneurs bring their idea to life.”
According to a recent report commissioned by Monsha’at, 50 percent of working-age Saudi women and 30 percent of men are launching or running businesses that are less than 42 months old.
“As significant contributors to employment, these emerging SMEs are set to drive economic growth in the Kingdom,” Prince Fahad said. “Around 75 percent of these businesses reported having six or more employees. Saudi Arabia’s commitment to assisting SMEs has been enshrined as part of Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s ambitious roadmap.”
He pointed out that Saudi Arabia aims to increase the contribution of SMEs to the national GDP from 20 to 35 percent over the coming decade.
“Saudi Arabia is enabling 100 Saudi companies to compete on the regional and global levels as a means to stimulate the entrepreneurship landscape and provide new opportunities for the sector,” he said.
The director of the innovation and entrepreneurship sector at the Ministry of Investment, Dr. Mazin Al-Zaidi, said that the most important thing for entrepreneurs is the number, and potential value of, opportunities.
“I believe we in Saudi Arabia have the largest opportunity for any entrepreneur. It is very easy to set up an opportunity in Saudi Arabia. Any foreign entrepreneur can obtain a license in less than three hours, with a 100 percent ownership, for only $500,” Al-Zaidi said.
For his part, Armen Ovanessof, principal director at Accenture Research, shed light on what the future might hold and what other uncertainties may lie ahead, stressing that the world will need “vision, agility and collaborative spirit” to build a better future.
Saudi Venture Capital Company CEO Dr. Nabil Koshak said: “Vision 2030 has highlighted the importance of entrepreneurship in economic and social transformation. We have seen innovative products and service solutions. The government and the local authorities have been working on updating and changing the regulatory environment to be more friendly to entrepreneurs, startups and investors.”
The vice governor of entrepreneurship advancement at the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (Monsha’at), Esam Al-Thukair, explained why he believes that fostering entrepreneurship is important.
“It is important for two main reasons: It is the most job generating industry and it has become a more significant GDP contributor than ever,” he said.